New York Red Bulls head coach Sandro Schwarz (left), striker Emil Forsberg (center), and head of sport Jochen Schneider (right) pose together during Friday's introductory press conference (Credit: New York Red Bulls)
New York Red Bulls head coach Sandro Schwarz (left), striker Emil Forsberg (center), and head of sport Jochen Schneider (right) pose together during Friday’s introductory press conference (Credit: New York Red Bulls)

In Between preseason stops on each coast, the New York Red Bulls returned to Harrison on Friday for a special press conference. After weather delays, the team officially introduced new head coach Sandro Schwarz and forward Emil Forsberg to the press and fans. The two were joined by RBNY head of sport Jochen Schneider on stage in front of press and Red Members.


Schwarz’s Red Bull Soccer

After being introduced by Schneider, coach Schwarz gave his initial thoughts on being in Harrison and the team right now.

“What I want to say at the beginning, it’s great to be here and to have this feeling, for the first two weeks now, since we started our training session and also our friendly games: I have a great feeling here — with my family, with my two little kids at our facility – a great atmosphere there, in the front office, in the stadium,” said Schwarz. “I’m looking forward to continuing our process, to continuing our work how we’ve started since the first training session.”

He will be joined on the sideline by three assistant coaches. Volkan Bulut and Vedad Ibiševic will join Schwarz as soon as their VISAs are approved. Current Red Bulls II head coach Ibrahim Sekagya will have double duty as he also serves as assistant.

Schneider noted that Schwarz’s career, as both a player and coach, were huge factors in choosing him.

“Sandro is a coach who brings a lot of energy with him,” the head of sports said. “He’s a great leader, a great human being, that reason is number one. Secondly, his style of play fits perfectly with our style of play so it’s a perfect match. And the third reason is that he’s able to build a team and that he’s able to develop young players. And that’s why we decided to bring Sandro to the New York Red Bulls.”

That “style of play” is Red Bull Football. Something that when brought up to fans can either bring joy or annoyance. In general, Red Bull wants all of its teams around the globe to have a distinct style of playing soccer. Despite never playing for a Red Bull team, Schwarz is aware of what is expected.

“Everyone knows how we want to play, the identity of Red Bull. With high intensity, first of all, and very aggressive against the ball. 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.

“The Red Bull soccer identity is more than only to have a game idea — this is the main goal for us, the main goal for the supporters in our stadium, in our home games. What I have seen the last two weeks in our preseason are big steps in the development of the players: How we want to press, to find the right moments, to find the right timing for these situations, but then to have the right position in our ball position to come direct, and also in the counter pressing situations.”

Schwarz comes into New York Red Bull as the team is recovering. At the time of its playoff exit multiple players were injured. This includes Lewis Morgan and Dante Vanzier. Now in preseason, it is reported that Cameron Harper may have suffered an injury too.

When asked about coming into this situation by NYCSN, Schwarz noted how important it is to keep those players involved. While he hasn’t seen them at 100% in person, making sure they know the systems is crucial to sliding them into the team as they recover.

“First of all they have their individual program in the preseason, especially now Lewis (Morgan). For me it’s also very important that they are in our team video meetings and our principal meetings. So they are involved in all our video meetings. They can adapt in the sequences how we want to play. They also (came) with us to Florida and (will come) next week in California so we are all together as a team.”


Forsberg Up To Task

Following the head coach, the team officially introduced Swedish forward Emil Forsberg to the media. If the Sweden national team had any negative feelings about being with RBNY, he hid them incredibly well. The smile almost never left Forsberg’s face as he discussed the upcoming season and his professional journey.

“So far, the whole experience with the guys, with training camp, with the facility – it feels like a family here,” said Forsberg. “That’s why it has been easy for me to join the team and feel comfortable with the team and with the guys. I’m excited. As always, preseason is preseason. I mean you can win all the games and then you end up losing in the league. But I mean, we’re taking everything seriously. We’re working hard every day to get our structure, to get to where every player knows what to do in every situation, to trust our qualities, to be proud, to be brave in what we do with the ball and against the ball. My expectations are high. I’m so happy to be here and I can’t wait for the season to start so that we can win games.”

With over twenty national team goals and close to fifty league goals with RB Leipzig, it’s fair to say that expectations are high. The Red Bulls have made the playoffs in 24 of their 28 seasons. The team holds the longest active playoff streak in North American men’s professional sports (14). But the lack of an MLS Cup still hangs high over the organization’s head. That’s something Forsberg loves.

“I loved the challenge to come here to MLS and to play for the New York Red Bulls. For me, it’s a fantastic opportunity,” said Forsberg. ” I felt that after nine years in Leipzig, I wanted to do something new and when I heard about this opportunity, I said that this is something I want to do. It’s perfect for me. I’m very, very motivated. [I’m] hungry to win. That’s what made me come. I think we can achieve some fantastic things here. From the beginning, as soon as I heard about it, I wanted to do it with 1,000%. I’m so happy to be here, and the first couple of weeks have been amazing. The guys have been fantastic to me. I think we’re going in a fantastic direction with Sandro as well. It feels amazing to be here.”

At 32 years old, the striker knows he will be seen as a leader on this squad. Taking notes from his time in Germany where he grew into that role, Forsberg is excited to work alongside younger players. He says he envies the pressure that’s going to be on him to push them in the right direction.


A Mixed Offseason

The Red Bulls have brought in four new players this offseason including Forsberg. Noah Eile, a Swedish defender, was brought in earlier this month. University of Virginia defender Aidan O’Connor was selected in the recent MLS SuperDraft and signed to a professional contract last week. Roald Mitchell is a homegrown signing who has spent time in the Red Bulls system. Both players are most likely going to spent time with RBNY’s reserve team in MLS Next Pro.

In turn, many fans have been displeased at the team for these acquisitions. An offseason full of big transfers has, evidently, led to bringing in two MLS ready players. However Schneider defended the moves. He also says the team is looking to do more before the season starts.

“We are excited with what we’ve done so far in this transfer window,” said Schneider. “Adding four players to our team and also, we must not forget that quite a few players are coming back from long injuries like Lewis Morgan, Serge Ngoma, and Dante Vanzeir. We’re still keeping our eyes open, we’re not done yet. We’re still considering (bringing) one or two players to this team to make us better but we’re really excited about what we’ve seen so far in preseason.”


The team will wrap up preseason as they head to California in a few days. The team looks for a good showing at the Coachella Valley Invitational against three fellow MLS sides. The New York Red Bulls open the 2024 season on the road against Nashville SC on February 25. Fans first chance to see the team in person will be two weeks after that. RBNY will welcome FC Dallas, and Forsberg, to Harrison on March 9.

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