HARRISON, N.J. – New York Red Bulls general manager Jerome de Bontin said in his first meeting with local media in early October that then-head coach Hans Backe’s future would be decided by the future sporting director.
It turns out that was not the case.
Andy Roxburgh was hired as the Red Bulls’ new sporting director on Nov. 9, the same day the club announced it would not renew Backe’s contract. The decision to allow Backe (above) to leave came a day after he and New York crashed out of the playoffs against D.C. United, and Roxburgh claims he had nothing to do with it.
“I wasn’t here at that point, but it was clear that the contract was at an end with Hans,” Roxburgh told reporters in his first meeting with local media on Tuesday. “I think that decisions were already almost in place, that if they get knocked out, they wouldn’t renew the contract. It was almost like a fait accompli when that came.”
Roxburgh’s words confirm what some fans and sections of the media believed: Backe was a lame duck coach in his final months in charge of the Red Bulls, and that only an MLS Cup title could have saved him.
Waived players may return
While Backe’s time with the club is over, the same cannot be said about some of the players who were recently cut. Roxburgh said there is a chance that some of the 10 players waived by the club could return for next year’s preseason, and that letting them go at this point had more to do with the salaries they were slated to make in 2013 than anything else.
“All we said is, as of today, with their numbers in some cases, we couldn't take that option right this minute,” Roxburgh said. “There's one or two we, me and the new coach, would like to see and we've suggested that they come back and join us. But they wanted to, in some cases, see what their other options would be, so we can't stand in their way on that one."
Some of the players who appear set to come back for trials in 2013 are right back Jonathan Borrajo and forwards Corey Hertzog (whose Generation adidas deal expired after two seasons) and Jose Angulo. All three trained with the Red Bulls during the Tuesday afternoon session that was led by interim head coach Mike Petke, and they look like safe bets to be in when preseason camp begins in January.
One player who a source tells MLSsoccer.com has been invited to the Red Bulls’ preseason training is Tyler Ruthven. The 24-year-old center back is currently dealing with a minor injury that is preventing him from training, but he is expected to be healthy by the time preseason camp kicks off.
New training facility to open in 2013
The Red Bulls may have a bunch of the same faces back for next year, but there is one big change on the horizon. The club is set to open a new training facility in Hannover, N.J., in 2013 and it is expected to be more soccer-friendly than the current setup the club has at Montclair State University.
“We’ll go in there this spring once the grass is good enough to practice on,” Roxburgh said.
A June report from the Hannover Eagle says the facility on Melanie Lane will include three fields (one artificial turf and two natural grass), a field house and an administrative building. All the fields are expected to be stadium-lighted and one should have bleachers that can hold roughly 350 people.
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com.