The New York Red Bulls and head coach Gerhard Struber have mutually parted ways, the club announced Monday morning. Assistant coach Bernd Eibler has also departed the club.
The changes come with New York sitting last in the Eastern Conference table with a 1W-4L-6D record and seven goals scored (second-worst in MLS). The Red Bulls made the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in 2021 and 2022 under Struber, extending the club’s co-league-leading streak to 13 seasons, but have stagnated this year.
Concurrently, the Red Bulls have named Troy Lesesne as head coach through the end of the 2023 MLS season. Lesesne joined the club as an assistant coach in January 2022.
“We thank Gerhard and Bernd for their work and commitment to our club and wish them well in their next endeavors,” RBNY head of sport Jochen Schneider said in a release. “I want to especially thank Gerhard for his dedication to this club and for the personal sacrifices that he made, especially being away from his family. He led our players through a difficult time, keeping everyone in good spirits while continuing our playoff streak.
“After many discussions with Gerhard over the past few weeks, we mutually came to the agreement that a change now would be beneficial for both parties.”
Struber, 46, joined RBNY in late 2020 from English Championship side Barnsley, succeeding Chris Armas. He ultimately went 33W-31L-23D across all competitions.
The coaching change comes before New York's first rivalry meeting with New York City FC in the 2023 season. In Matchday 12, the Eastern Conference clubs will meet Saturday at Red Bull Arena (7:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass).
“I enjoyed my time at the New York Red Bulls,” Struber said. “It was also clear for me that I wanted to return to Europe at the end of this season, at the latest. It was extremely difficult for me to live here, completely without my family. I informed the club early enough about my wishes and we came to the agreement to part ways.
“I wish the organization and the players the best of luck moving forward. I’ve enjoyed getting to know the players, staff and know my relationships I’ve built will continue. It was an honor to lead this club. I know they are all going to continue to accomplish great things in their careers.”
Struber was well-versed in the Red Bull system before arriving in New York, leading to him maintaining the club’s high-pressing tactical system. That produced consistent results in past seasons, but questions of its limitations have arisen after four straight Round One postseason exits.
The Red Bulls’ roster largely resembles their 2022 one, minus captain and US men’s national team center back Aaron Long departing for LAFC in free agency. As of late, they’ve been without three high-priced attackers in DPs Luquinhas (injury) and Dante Vanzeir (suspension), as well as TAM-level winger and 2022 leading scorer Lewis Morgan (injury).
Last month, Struber faced criticism from fans and media for his handling of the in-game incident that led to Vanzeir being suspended for using racist language, namely keeping the potential club-record signing in the match. In the aftermath, RBNY supporters staged protests at Red Bull Arena.
Lesesne takes over
Now, with Lesesne at the helm, the Red Bulls will look to reverse course. The former USL Championship Coach of the Year previously served as head coach and technical director of New Mexico United. Lesesne also spent one season with the USL Championship’s Charleston Battery as an assistant coach and worked closely with Vancouver Whitecaps FC during that time.
“Troy is an impressive, knowledgeable coach, who has worked incredibly well with our players for the last year and half,” Schneider said. “We are fortunate to have him lead our team forward.”
Goalkeepers coach Jyri Nieminen also remains on the RBNY coaching staff.