Ali Curtis identifies Red Bulls’ player acquisition goals, Designated Players, more

IMAGE, NEWYORKREDBULLS.COM

Empire of Soccer caught up with New York Red Bulls General Manager, Marc de Grandpre, and Sporting Director, Ali Curtis, to speak about the current state of the team. In this installment of our conversation, Curtis lays out the team’s goals for offseason player acquisitions.


The New York Red Bulls are 24 hours from participating in the MLS SuperDraft.  There, they hope to snag some valuable depth to prop up their starting XI.

However, that starting pool is very much up in the air.  Yes, the Red Bulls have much the same spine as they’ve touted over the past two seasons, from Luis Robles at goal, to Dax McCarty in midfield and Bradley Wright-Phillips up top.  Still, there are several positions left to be addressed; an issue Sporting Director Ali Curtis hopes to tackle in short time.

The Red Bulls’ Sporting head has identified key areas where the team needs to either improve or reinforce heading into the 2015 season.

“We would like additional depth at forward,” Curtis tells EOS.  “There is opportunity at the center back spot with [Jamison] Olave leaving. We would like to provide an additional support within the attacking midfield role where [Peguy] Luyindula did a great job at the end of the season.” Along with these areas, Curtis is also seeking a solid number two to back Robles and “challenge him on a day-to-day basis.”

But where will the Red Bulls look for those reinforcements?  After spending several years in the league office, helping to model much of the infrastructure involving player development and movement, Curtis also brings with him a deep knowledge of the league and player pool that he feels will buoy chances of landing the right players.

“I came with a plan … and prospects as well,” he explains.  “There have been a number of things we have been working on. We haven’t had a whole lot of time since the start of my accepting the position, but it’s important we make player signings relatively soon. We are pretty close.”

Curtis did not reveal when or whom the team would be signing.  However, two standout players who have been linked to Red Bull over the past week are Sunderland’s Jozy Altidore and former Chivas USA star, Sacha Kljestan.

Curtis offered no comment on either player, but did discuss his philosophy on adding Designated Players for the club.

“Each player on the team is important and has their place,” Curtis begins.  “I don’t care if they are Homegrown or Designated Player or whatever you want to call it. We will put the club first and make those decisions, whether difficult or unpopular, and put the club first, ourselves second, and move forward.”

That statement is a departure from the pomp of past Red Bull Sporting Directors whom always addressed the usage and pursuit of Designated Players.  Erik Soler made no bones about maximizing his potential on DPs.  Andy Roxburgh left the door open for “the right player,” warning that the investment must meet production both on and off the field.

Curtis eschews the idea of labels when it comes to player acquisitions altogether, refusing to participate in the MLS feeding frenzy for the next big star.  “It all depends on the type of player,” he insists.  “Originally, we brought Bradley Wright-Phillips and he wasn’t a Designated Player, and he performed wonderfully and is a great guy.  By many accounts, he is a terrific pro and had a terrific season as a non-Designated Player.

“It is important we bring those types of players,” he continues.  “We need guys that work hard. Guys that care more about the club than they care about themselves.”

As suggested, instead of dreaming of what can be on the Designated Player front, Curtis is looking internally, hoping to make up for his losses through the leaders in his current roster.

“We have positions where we have leaders. The leaders will have to step up in a way than they have never stepped up,” he said.  “With Thierry [Henry] leaving, there is a void and we will be looking for our guys to step up from the minute they touch down for preseason.”

 


 

Clearly, these aren’t the high spending Red Bulls of year’s past. The focus has changed towards youth and value over splash and cash.  Inklings on their direction will be had over the coming weeks as New York signs players and invites trialists to preseason camp.

The true test of this direction, however, will come during the regular season. As Curtis has said in previous installments of our series, setting goals and defining success over the course of his first year will produce set expectations. How those standards mesh with the expectations of Red Bull fans will be the ultimate judgment on this new era in Red Bull New York.

For the first two parts of our series, click here:

ALI CURTIS LAYS OUT VISION FOR NEW YORK RED BULLS

CURTIS, DE GRANDPRE DISCUSS FIRING OF MIKE PETKE


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  • dvlvFormerRBfan

    “I don’t care if they are Homegrown or Designated Player or whatever you want to call it. We will put the club first and make those decisions, whether difficult or unpopular, and put the club first, ourselves second, and move forward.”
    There you have it! Who cares what the fans think, right Ali? We’re not the idiots you think we are. This us the same double talk the Mets have been giving their fans. Guess what that means? Lots of empty seats. Can’t wait til the team is sold. I’m out.

  • Paul hun

    as a redbull fan I got no worries…we were able to shrewdly land sal zizzo!! We are set for the year,especially with Armando leading the charge from the back


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