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Who will run the Red Bulls? My unusual suspect

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                                                                                  Photo by ISI Photos

Things have gotten very quiet on the Red Bulls front as far as the club’s search for a new managing director goes. Nobody is saying a thing as we wait for officials in Salzburg to annoint a new team leader now that Marc deGrandpre has left to return to his preferred field of soft drink sales.

There have been some names pulled from thin air (such as Marcelo Balboa and Tony Meola, neither of which is a candidate), and some legitimate candidates that very well could be lining up to be interviewed (such as Andrew LoFiosca, Tom Neale and Nelson Rodriguez). With team sources growing in their belief that Red Bull will hire someone already employed by the company, we are left to wonder if the club will do what it did when it hired deGrandpre, hand the keys to a pro sports franchise to someone with absolutely no experience working in pro sports.

One name not mentioned, but who I could definitely see making the move from the soccer side of things to the business side of things, is none other than current technical director Jeff Agoos. Why Agoos? Well, according to sources, Agoos has done a good job of establishing strong ties to Red Bull corporate officials and just might have built up enough cache from those relationships to be considered for the job.

When asked whether he should be considered a candidate, Agoos stated last week, "As far as I know, I’m not in the mix."

The ‘As far as I know’ is classic Agoos, always leaving the door open, never saying anything that could be described as overly definitive. Agoos is shrewd and very smart and just might see an opportunity to take on a bigger role in the organization. Team sources I have spoken to have little doubt that Agoos would be willing to make the move.

Is this an endorsement of the potential move? Not at all. If I’m Red Bull I would have hired Tom Neale, the former San Jose GM and MetroStars chief operating officer, a week ago. What I do see is Agoos being someone savvy enough and ambitious enough to make a play for the position. I can’t help but think that he feels capable of doing the job.

So why call Agoos an ‘Unusual suspect’? Agoos’ background is purely on the soccer side, with no business management experience to speak of. You might think that this would rule him out but who can ever tell what an organization is willing to try? AEG handed Alexi Lalas his first job as president of a team (and second, and third) and it can be argued that Lalas was no more qualified for that job then than Agoos is now for the Red Bulls job (okay, so maybe that example doesn’t help make Agoos’ case).

Ultimately, Red Bull does need someone with business savvy but also someone who understands the sport, the league and the New York/New Jersey market. It remains to seen whether Red Bull considers Agoos someone capable of handling the job, but don’t be surprised if Agoos changes his job title with the club for the third time in two seasons.

Comments

  1. DeGrandpre was hired because he had the rapport with Red Bull corporate in Santa Monica and Austria. He also was beloved by a lot of the field marketing managerial staff who I thought would be utilized more to market the team. None of that really happened because honestly I don’t think DeGrandpre knew what to do with a pro sports franchise. With the new stadium coming, Red Bull needs to pull someone who understands soccer but is more of an ambassador to marketing professional teams. And they need to have some ‘outside of the box ideas.’ I never saw one during DeGrandpre’s term and Agoos is not going to have these ideas such as utilizing social networks, street art, contesting, Facebook fan pages, etc.

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  2. A.S., Lalas didn’t sign Beckham, that was Lieweke and the late Doug Hamilton. The rest of this circus is Lalas’ doing.

    RBNY needs someone who’ll solidify and build business connections, grow the fanbase and make the franchise attractive enough to bring in high-profile players.

    Agoos isn’t there yet and there’s too much at stake for on-the-job training.

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  3. Good grief, Agoos? Why is it every owner we ever have hear is hell bent on old boy hires and stupid managment decisions. For the love of god, do these people not learn from the past?? This club is making me furious these past few days. I hopr this i sjust some speculation and not anything substantial.

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  4. Ives, I deff agree with you that Neale would be the best candidate. He has tons of experince, is well respected around the league, and born/rasied in the tri-state area. On top of his business experience he runs a tight ship and a great person to work for…

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  5. “(okay, so maybe that example doesn’t help make Agoos’ case)”

    It doesn’t? Sure, Alexi Lalas is doing a crappy job on the *soccer* side, but I’ll bet he’s done just fine on the *business* side.

    Now, I don’t know what they are looking for as a “managing director” – presumably someone who will do a good job on both the soccer and the business sides. But if they are focusing on the ability to do the business side of things, Alexi is probably a fine model.

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  6. Bits – If you can’t make fun of people then why live? The head of my family came to the US by walking across the border (illegally), but guess what I still make fun of border jumpers, fence climbers.. etc…. lighten up

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  7. New York is such an important market for MLS. They need to get someone who can put butts in seats. No experiments, no trials, no learning on the job. New York needs results both on and off the field.

    Somehow, I don’t think Agoos has the experience to do this.

    I would challenge the notion that you need a Soccer guy. What is needed is someone who knows how to market and gets the right Soccer guys to do their jobs – run the academy, find talent, and put a good product on the field. If they are not doing their part, they should go.

    The GM should be finding sponsorships, working with fans and building attendance. The GM should be focused on creating demand and ensuring that all things are working together so the marketing generates results.

    Agoos is the not the guy to do it.

    The guy they should hire is a man by the name of Ray Compton. He is the VP of Marketing for the Indianapolis Colts. He held similar positions at the Pacers and was the owner of the IHL Indianapolis Ice. This guy is the complete opposite of DeGrandrpre.

    He understands how to market sports franchises.

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  8. So RBNY would go from having a marketing guy with no soccer/MLS knowledge to one with no business/marketing knowledge to run the club.

    I think Agoos is intelligent and could be a capable GM in a few years but the club needs someone experienced who’s going to run and market the organization NOW.

    Short of Peter Wilt, if that Neale guy is available then get him.

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  9. If Agoos gets the job then it would explain why he wasn’t able to find any players for the team. He was too busy trying to get a better job.

    And I’m not buying his I’m not in the mix” line. There is no way he hasn’t thrown his hat in the ring.

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