HARRISON, N.J. — New York Red Bulls head of sport Jochen Schneider looked toward the South Ward, where the most passionate fans stand just beyond the south goal inside Red Bull Arena, during a summer match while his side struggled and clawed to stay in playoff contention.
There the ultras held a banner reading “Just Not Good Enough,” — a sentiment that would get any high-ranking member of any management team within an athletic organization hot under the collar. But not so much Schneider.
“They were completely right,” he said during his exit interview on Wednesday afternoon inside Red Bull Arena.
While the MLS playoffs are in their quarterfinal stage, the Red Bulls once again find themselves watching from the couch after being eliminated in the first round by FC Cincinnati. It’s becoming an all-too-familiar feeling for a club that has made the playoffs 14 years in a row as they’ve been bounced from the first round of the postseason in each of the past five years.
For Schneider, who took over as head of sport in July of 2022, the postseason mediocrity for a franchise that is still looking for its first MLS Cup has gone on long enough.
While interim head coach Troy Lesesne stabilized the club and helped it make the playoffs — cleaning up the mess left by Gerhard Struber — Schneider opted not to renew his deal to officially put the Red Bulls in the market for a new head coach. They also parted ways with sporting director Dennis Hamlett and assistant coach Zach Prince
“We are proud of the run that we made it now 14 times in a row into the playoffs, but let me say this clearly: This is not good enough,” Schneider said. “We need to take the next step and that’s why we made these decisions. That’s why we agreed with Red Bull Soccer to invest in our team and we want to reach the next level.”
That point was further driven home by who was sitting in the back of the press conference room at Red Bull Arena. Former German international striker and Red Bull Global technical director, Mario Gomez, is expected to spend more time in New York to help oversee the retooling of the MLS side, which notably has a sister club playing in the German Bundesliga.
An influx of established players is expected to be infused with the young club, which boasts a litany of homegrown products. Rumors have pinpointed Swedish international Emil Forsberg as the first big name to head to the United States from RB Leipzig.
“We are learning every day what kind of players you need to perform in this league to win games,” Schneider said. “This is very important to have these kinds of difference-makers.”
While Schneider is hoping to find a new sporting director with an abundance of MLS experience to seamlessly fill the role, he was far less open about what he’s looking for in his manager — though he hopes to have the searches wrapped up by Christmas.
“We have something in mind,” Schneider said. “How it should look, the profile, but I prefer to talk about that when we announce the new coach.”