UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – From completing the capture of Designated Player Tim Cahill to traveling around Europe to scout for talent, New York Red Bulls general manager/sporting director Erik Solér has not had a moment’s rest in recent days.
Solér did, however, have some time to talk to the media on Monday to discuss the bevy of moves the Red Bulls have been involved in during the last few weeks. And he opened up about why some of those decisions were made, while also setting a lofty goal for a New York team that is coming off back-to-back flat performances in road losses.
“I will be extremely disappointed if we do not win the whole way this season,” Solér told reporters on Monday. “I think the team is good enough, we have a great squad of coaches and people around the team, I think we have everything we need to win so I expect us to win this season. I do.
“We would really like to win the Eastern Conference first and then if we can get to the final, get to the Champions League, I would be happy with that because that’s a big achievement for the club,” he added. “Obviously, I’d like to win both the Supporters’ Shield and the [MLS] Cup. We need to start winning. It’s about culture.”
Solér mentioned that if New York fail to win anything this season, he would have to sit down and reflect on why things did not work out and then make decisions after that. But he also admitted that the Red Bulls are not necessarily done trying to improve their squad in the quest for their first MLS Cup.
“We have other clubs contacting us every day from within the league, wanting this, trying to do that,” said Solér. “Of course, we’re in the same ballpark. The way this league works, you have to be active and try to communicate and that’s what we do. We don’t have any specific issues as of today, but you never know.”
One thing that is known is New York could soon add English flanker Lloyd Sam. The 27-year-old free agent, who last played for Notts County on loan from Leeds United, had his first training session with the Red Bulls on Monday, and he is expected to get at least a week-long trial before a decision is made on whether or not to acquire him.
“We know him from earlier,” Solér said. “We know he has qualities but we haven’t seen him for the last year, so it’s hard to see if he’s become better or worse. We know he has qualities, very good one-on-one, good left foot, good vision. He has some assets but we have to see if the assets fit what we look for.”
Solér also touched on last week’s acquisition of center back Babajide Ogunbiyi and the trade of Mehdi Ballouchy to the San Jose Earthquakes. Solér said San Jose initially reached out about acquiring Ballouchy before a deal was struck, and that signing Ogunbiyi came after some positive reviews from their network in Denmark.
“We’ve been following [him] since the day I came,” said Solér. “Lars Sondergaard, who was [head coach Hans Backe’s] assistant at Copenhagen, was the coach at Viborg, so we’ve gotten reports from there and they were positive so in the end that’s something we chose to do.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at Franco8813@gmail.com