HARRISON, N.J. — Sandro Schwarz needed to get a better idea of what to expect in Major League Soccer after being brought on as New York Red Bulls head coach in December, so he called two as good authorities as there could be.
“I had two great conversations with [United States Men’s National Team head coach] Gregg Berhalter to get the feeling, and also then [former Red Bulls, RB Leipzig, and Leeds United head coach] Jesse Marsch,” Schwarz said. “For me, it’s very important that I have this information before I start working here in MLS. I don’t have this experience with my first game on the touchline, but I’m looking forward to the first game.”
The 45-year-old Schwarz doesn’t have much experience with MLS. He’s only watched and attended a handful of games over the years having done most of his coaching in Germany. He most recently coached Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin, which was relegated to Germany’s second tier in 2022-23 — his only season with the club.
Now he’s attempting to take the Red Bulls to the next level while learning a new league on the fly. It certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s trying to strengthen what is known as the “Red Bull Way,” — a high-octane, pressing style of soccer — considering his core values.
“Sandro is a coach who brings a lot of energy with him,” Red Bulls head of sport Jochen Schneider said. “He’s a great leader… his style of play fits perfectly with our style of play so it’s a perfect match… He’s able to build a team and he’s able to develop young players. And that’s why we decided to bring Sandro to the New York Red Bulls.”
Intensity has been the name of the game through Schwarz’s first few weeks as head coach. It’s something that he views as the great equalizer to level the playing field for a roster that is still very young and didn’t do much outside the blockbuster signing of Swedish star midfielder Emil Forsberg to change that.
Forsberg undoubtedly boosts New York’s attacking prowess when goals were so hard to come by in 2023 (only two teams in the Eastern Conference had fewer goals than New York). So does the return of Lewis Morgan — the team’s leading scorer two years ago who was plagued by a hip injury all last season. A relentless work rate will only help lift the Red Bulls from a fringe playoff team to more of a legitimate contender.
Establishing attacking fluency will only help.
“Everyone knows how we want to play, the identity of Red Bull. With high intensity, first of all, and very aggressive against the ball,” Schwarz said. “But, in my opinion, it’s also then necessary that we find solutions with the ball and that we have controlled situations with the ball. I think you need this in every phase of the game… We are very aggressive in attacking situations against the ball. This is Red Bull soccer, for sure — to find good positions when we have the ball and when we have the situations in the [final] third. Deep runs are very important for us when we have the ball with the highest intensity.
“This is also then necessary to find the right moment when we can start the pressing and to change together. We have to do this as a team and hold the energy.”