Ali Curtis may still be the New York Red Bulls acting sporting director but it appears that a member of the coaching staff may in fact currently be the point person on some key decisions.
In recent weeks, it has been Denis Hamlett, an assistant coach under head coach Jesse Marsch, who has been the face of the Red Bulls personnel department. Two sources including one general manager of an MLS team tells Metro that, in recent weeks, Hamlett has been the one handling inquiries on matters such as trades and player personnel issues.
“I’ve been told to deal with Denis now,” the one general manager told Metro. “I have no idea if it is permanent or not, I just don’t know. But he’s the one.”
Several weeks ago, Curtis, who has been the sporting director for the past two highly successful Red Bulls seasons, left the MLS SuperDraft suddenly and returned to New York. The Red Bulls would not say why Curtis left the SuperDraft in Los Angeles so suddenly, this as rumors circulated that Marsch was perhaps leaving for a job with Red Bull Salzburg. Metro, citing league sources, was the first outlet to break the news that Marsch, 2015 MLS Coach of the Year, was not taking a job in Europe and instead was returning to the MLS club.
Now here, it potentially gets interesting.
One source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that he’s heard through the grapevine that Curtis is currently negotiating a settlement to leave the organization. No reason was given why Curtis, a man who pieced together a team that has won the Eastern Conference titles and took the Supporters Shield in 2015, would suddenly leave.
A former executive in the league office, Curtis’ tenure in New York started with controversy as he boldly fired popular head coach Mike Petke during the offseason leading up to the 2015 campaign. He rode through the criticism, rarely defending himself, and pieced together a team in 2015 that was an MLS Cup favorite and finished with the most points in MLS, this despite having the league’s lowest payroll.
There is no indication yet whether Hamlett has the position on a full-time basis or even if, potentially, he was filling in for Curtis were these rumors of his departure untrue. What is known is that Hamlett right now has taken the role.
Sharp, energetic and affable, Hamlett played one season in MLS in 1996 with the Colorado Rapids before pursuing a career in coaching. He was a former head coach of the Fire as well as Chivas USA. He has a reputation around MLS and soccer circles as someone with an intricate knowledge of the league’s personnel and talent.
In 2012 he served as an assistant with the Montreal Impact where Marsch was then the head coach.