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Being the first coach to guide the New York Red Bulls to the MLS Cup final has brought plenty of attention to head coach Juan Carlos Osorio. Some of it good, and some of it unwanted.
Along with the credit being given to him for guiding a short-handed and undermanned Red Bulls squad to a final, Osorio has also been pegged in reports as a coach ready for a change, ready to make what would be his fourth coaching change in two years.
Amid growing rumors that he is ready to leave the Red Bulls after just one season, including reports out of Colombia linking him to a return to coach in his native country, Osorio emphatically denied the reports and stated that he has every intention of being Red Bulls head coach in 2009.
"The reports about me leaving are not true," Osorio said on Monday evening. "I am under contract next year and I have a job to do. This is the job I want and I am not looking to leave.
"I am proud of the things we were able to do this year and have already begun working on next year's team."
Osorio, who will be making a scouting trip to Jamaica later this week before traveling to Colombia for an extended vacation, did reveal that he has turned down a handful of job offers and more than a dozen requests to interview for coaching positions in Latin America. He has been approached by teams from Colombia and Mexico, but insists that he has turned down all approaches.
As for suggestions that he is unhappy with Red Bulls owners over the club's committment to improving the team, Osorio acknowledged that he wants to see what Red Bull will do to strengthen the team, but insisted that reports implying that his concerns about Red Bulls leadership have him considering leaving are off base.
"We need to be better as a team and as a club we are going to need to devote all of our resources to that," Osorio said. " I do want to see what the club will do but I have not lost faith that we will do what is necessary to strengthen the team so that it can compete on all fronts, including the league and CONCACAF."
What is my take? Based on everything I have heard, and all the conversations I have had with Osorio through the year, I do not see him up and leaving New York after just one year on the job. Are there concerns about the club's committment to strengthening the team on the field? Sources tell me that is the case despite the fact that Osorio has never publicly questioned the club's committment. Why? Red Bull Salzburg provided no assistance in the player acquisition department last year even after repeated requests from New York.
The most public of those rebukes involved Dutch midfielder Ernst Obster, a Red Bull Salzburg reserve team player who New York targeted as a potential impact player it could have brought in on loan. Salzburg balked at a loan and offer no other alternatives. While the Red Bulls did sign several players last season, all the players were acquired under the normal MLS parameters and not with the help of Salzburg.
With an MLS Cup appearance in his first year as Red Bulls head coach, Osorio is very likely to press Salzburg for more support in the form of loan deals and the resources for a second designated player, but suggestions that Osorio is ready to jump ship are premature. He has one more year left on his current contract and has the leverage to ask for more support. It doesn't make much sense for Osorio to walk away now.