After over a month of speculation and rumors, the New York Red Bulls announced Thursday they had reached a mutual agreement with sporting director Ali Curtis to terminate their professional relationship. Curtis reportedly left the 2017 MLS Combine for unspecified personal reasons back in January, and had not been heard from since mid-January.
Curtis’ termination follows the departure of midfield stalwart and captain Dax McCarty who seemingly placed the blame for his unexpected trade squarely on the shoulders of manager Jesse Marsch, citing Curtis had not been acting in a professional capacity. Perhaps Marsch’s protracted stay in Salzburg during the early part of the offseason meant he was ultimately being groomed to be the visionary to take control of much of NYRB’s operations.
Curtis’ two year stint with the Red Bulls was marked by both controversy and success. After taking the reigns as sporting director in 2014, Curtis dismissed former Metrostars defender and then Red Bulls manager Mike Petke. Given Petke was the only coach to bring the Red Bulls the Supporter’s Shield in 2013, fans were livid with his firing. Famed for his 300 page plan and new high press playing identity, Curtis sought to bring more engaging soccer to the club.
The Bad taste would not last long as new manager Jesse Marsch would lead the team to another Supporter’s Shield in 2015 and back to back Eastern Conference finishes. Under Curtis’ guidance, the club would make a slew of interesting, albeit relatively cheap, transfer decisions which saw the team shift to the “team is the star” identity. Regardless of one’s personal feelings toward Curtis, he will leave an indelible impact on the Red Bulls for years to come (although we may not have seen his full 300 page plan run its course).