Red Bulls Town Hall Recap: Marketing, Player Development – and RalfBall

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by RUSS McKENZIE

HARRISON, N.J. – What a difference a year makes.

Nearly a year ago, Frank Isola presided over the first New York Red Bulls town hall. The crowd was surly, reacting to the dismissal of club legend Mike Petke, and the subsequent hiring of Jesse Marsch.

A year later, Red Bulls fans were given the opportunity to voice their opinions to largely the same panel of characters that faced an angry mob a year ago. Head coach Jesse Marsch, Sporting Director Ali Curtis, general manager Marc de Grandpre, and goalkeeper Luis Robles faced New York’s season ticket holders that asked questions about topics ranging from concessions to arena security to the direction of the club. However, the majority of questions centered around how the team is marketed.

Here are some of the highlights:

On player development

Ali Curtis: “From our perspective, we want to be a club that’s built from the ground up in terms of what’s going on with our youth development system. We believe that it’s our core, that we need to invest in local players. Matt Miazga is the perfect example of that. Ideally, I think last year was a great step for us getting the USL team going. It was the first time we were building a professional team.”

On parking around Red Bull Arena

Marc de Grandpre: “We are working with (the city of Harrison) to identify every piece of gravel and asphalt to park vehicles. The town and the county are committed to building a permanent parking structure right next to the arena that will probably hold 4000 cars. So, that will happen in due time.”

On signing European players at the end of their career

Curtis: “To train the way Jesse trains the guys and to play the way we want them to play, we’re not trying to bring players in looking to play in a retirement league. We want guys that are ready to play – young, strong. We feel good about our group of guys.”

Marsch: “Doublepass went around to every team in the league and evaluated them. The things that they are trying to get other teams to do, Ali has already started to put them in place. The credit goes to Ali. We think this is the way of the future in this league.”

On Marketing in NYC and the Rivalry in NYCFC

MdG: “We own this city. We won all three games. New York is red. We will reinvest a lot into marketing this year. You’re going to see a lot more traditional media. We own this city, we’re going to keep owning it.”

Luis Robles: “To be part of the first New York City rivalry was something special. It continues to elevate the game of soccer in this area. It’s exciting to see what’s going on. I think we’re headed in the right direction. Here at Red Bulls, we want our product to do the talking.”

On CONCACAF Champions League

Robles: “The way that we see it, there’s not enough silverware in our trophy case. We want to win every single trophy. As a player to the fans, I want you to understand that what you see on the field is hapening every day on the training pitch. This is something we will want to continue to cultivate. You better believe that locker room is going to want to win every single trophy. You better believe that every player is going to want to play every CCL match.”

On “Ralfball”

JM: “I’ve read the Ralfball articles like (most people) here have. There’s a shared resource system. When Ali made the decision to move in a new direction, I think he knew that we needed to get in line with our global properties.

This whole conspiracy around Ralf-ball, I find it somewhat entertaining. Now, I will say that Ralf has had an influence on me, and I consider him a mentor of mine. I’ve had Bob Bradley as a mentor (also). There has been no mandate to do anything. It’s about trying to create something unique.”

LR: “When we were talking about Ralfball, I read the article, and I didn’t enjoy it. The reason I didn’t enjoy it is because, in its own sense, it didn’t speak to the leadership necessary to carry out the way that we play. And when we were in that locker room and Jesse first told us last season how we would play, it was met with a lot of skepticism …. but the one thing we saw throughout the season was it is easy to buy into what Jesse was saying.”

On NWSL

AC: “We don’t have immediate plans for a Women’s program.”

On Rebranding to Add Local Flair

MdG: “I don’t think the logo will change in the foreseeable future. (However), we should not define where we play by this logo. We are part of this community.”