De Bontin, Houllier take over for Soler at helm of Red Bulls

Jerome de Bontin

Photo Credit: 
Courtesy of AS Monaco

NEW YORK – Just when it seemed the New York Red Bulls had found a modicum of consistency, they’re shaking things up again.

On Tuesday afternoon, the club announced the appointment of former AS Monaco president Jérôme de Bontin as general manager. De Bontin (above) will focus on the club’s business operations. Erik Solér, formerly general manager and sporting director, will remain with the club as an internal advisor.

Former France and Liverpool manager Gérard Houllier, who was appointed head of global soccer for Red Bull in July, will take responsibility on the sporting side for the club.

After serving as a member of the board at the French club for seven years, de Bontin took over as president from early 2008 until spring 2009, most notably, in the eyes of US fans at least, spearheading the signing of Freddy Adu on loan from Benfica.

He also is a member of the Investment Committee of the US Soccer Foundation, served on the US Soccer Federation task force on player development and is the current chairman of the Rush Soccer Organization. De Bontin brings a considerable business background to the Red Bulls’ general manager role, and is currently the director of Sustainability Investments LLC and Mekar Financial Services.

Solér was hired as New York’s general manger and sporting director in November 2009, hiring Hans Backe to manage the side and signing players such as Joel Lindpere, Thierry Henry, Rafa Márquez and Tim Cahill, among others.

After a disastrous 2009 campaign that saw the club finish with the worst record in MLS, the Red Bulls finished first in the Eastern Conference in 2010, Soler’s first at the helm, but were eliminated in the conference semifinal stage of the MLS Cup Playoffs by the San Jose Earthquakes. 

They finished fifth in the East a year ago, earning a wild-card berth in the playoffs, and knocked off FC Dallas in a play-in match before losing to the Galaxy in the Western Conference semifinals, a playoff series marred by a scuffle started by Márquez throwing the ball at Landon Donovan following a LA win at Red Bull Arena.

Through 31 games in 2012, New York (15-8-8) are tied for second in the East with the Chicago Fire and are third in MLS in total goals. They’ll host the Fire on Saturday (3:30 pm ET, NBC) in a crucial match in the race for playoff seeding.