HANOVER, N.J. – The long, MLS nightmare is over.
The New York Red Bulls will make Denis Hamlett officially their sporting director sometime this week, a source tells Metro New York, putting an end to an unusual offseason at the top of the team. Last month, the Red Bulls parted ways with Ali Curtis, the successful sporting director who led the Red Bulls the last two years in what had arguably been the best run of consecutive seasons in franchise history. Curtis, though initially unpopular due to the firing of head coach Mike Petke, still managed to piece together a team that had among the lowest payrolls in MLS and achieved some genuine successes.
Despite the apparent handicap of a low salary, he twice took the Eastern Conference and won the Supporters Shield in 2015 as well as seeing the squad he pieced together advance in the CONCACAF Champions League – this feat for this time ever in franchise history. But Curtis was surprisingly relieved of his duties last month, a process that wasn’t made official until two weeks ago in an announcement by the team.
Now, a source says, Hamlett will in his own right officially be made sporting director.
The move is certainly intriguing. Hamlett played in MLS and was actually one of the league’s first ever players, having suited up for the Colorado Rapids. He then found success for years as an assistant coach before eventually becoming head coach of the Chicago Fire. At times he’s served as head coach for the Red Bulls, such as when current head coach Jesse Marsch has been suspended by the league.
Thoughtful and pragmatic, Hamlett is well respected in US Soccer circles. He has never held a sporting director position before but the George Mason graduate has either played or coached at every level of professional soccer in this country.
Several weeks ago, sources told Metro that Hamlett has been acting as the de facto sporting director, a span that goes as far back as the MLS SuperDraft when he was the point person for the Red Bulls in the days leading up to the player selection process. That has continued, the source said, over the last few weeks as he’s been the person in club management to field calls from agents and deal with contracts.