The Ali Curtis, New York Red Bulls Soap Opera finally reached its expected conclusion today with Curtis leaving the organization in a “mutually agreed” upon decision.
“We would like to thank Ali for his contributions to the club over the last two seasons. We wish him the best in all of his future endeavors.”
That is the club’s statement and it does nothing at all to clarify the fog of mystery that has hung over Curtis and the team’s front office since the Sporting Director abruptly left the MLS SuperDraft in Los Angeles last month.
If the club’s Sporting Director skipping out on the SuperDraft wasn’t odd enough the team’s coach Jesse Marsch only arrived in Los Angeles after Curtis’ surprise departure, missing out on the MLS player combine. The coach touched down at LAX amid rumors that he would be leaving New York to take the reins at Red Bull Salzburg setting off rumors of a power struggle between Marsch and the man who hired him.
Red Bulls assistant coach Denis Hamlett has reportedly been filling Curtis’ Sporting Director role for the past month while the club continued to maintain that there had been no change to the team’s front office.
With Curtis’ whereabouts unknow these past four weeks it was Marsch’s name that appeared in team releases regarding player transactions. Today’s Red Bulls statement said that “over the past four weeks, Curtis and the Club tried to work through differing views. Ultimately, both sides agreed to part ways.”
The recent trade of club captain Dax McCarty to the Chicago Fire has been
cited in press reports as a possible tipping point with Curtis said to favor retaining the captain while Marsch favored the move. For his part McCarty told reporters that he was unhappy with how the organization handled the trade and made it clear who he saw as the Red Bulls decision maker. “At the end of the day,” the former Red Bulls captain said, “you could tell it was a decision that was his (Marsch’s) decision. I don’t think Ali Curtis had anything to do with the decision. I think that’s fairly obvious with the way the club is treating Ali right now. It’s clear for everyone to see that he’s no longer a part of the decision making process going on at the Red Bulls, which is a little surprising to me considering he put together two years of one of the best teams in MLS that won the Supporters’ Shield and won an Eastern Conference, so that’s a little surprising to me how things are going down with Ali.”
And while this conclusion was clearly in the cards since Curtis left Los Angeles in January, in the bigger picture the dissolution of the Curtis/ Marsch partnership does come as something of a shocker.
One of the Director’s first moves after his hiring in December 2014 was to fire highly popular Red Bulls coach Mike Petke paving the way for the Marsch hiring. The hugely unpopular move put the duo in the fans crosshairs and seemingly bound the them together.
No replacement for Curtis has been announced but it seems clear that whoever assumes the Sporting Director title, the Red Bulls are Jesse Marsch’s team now.