The Red Bulls are four days away from their MLS season opener. They will be on the field tonight in Vancouver for the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals after a 1-1 draw in New York. Though they are still polishing their final product on the field, the front office already has good chemistry with the installation of Denis Hamlett as sporting director.
Hamlett has traveled the long roads of MLS coaching the past 19 years which has honed his skills for this specific appointment. He certainly has lofty goals in mind. “Life is all about challenges, so I look at this as a big challenge and a big opportunity,” Hamlett said, “I’m confident in my abilities and I’m looking forward to taking this club to new heights.”
Hamlett has played the subservient to head coach Jesse Marsch the last two seasons. But these two have a relationship that dates back to 1998 during Marsch’s playing days. They have worked together often since and know each other well enough not to step on each other’s toes which was displayed recently with the re-signing of goalie Kyle Renish followed by the trade of Renish to Atlanta United for their 2018 MLS SuperDraft fourth-round pick. “Jesse and I have the utmost respect for each other, and I think it starts there,” Hamlett said, “For me and for us, that’s the key. In the end, I’m the sporting director, and I’ll make the decisions.”
Hamlett replaced Ali Curtis, who appeared to have done an excellent job the last two years. But Hamlett, like the rest of the Red Bull organization, remains silent on that topic. Hamlett will instead put the focus on the business at hand starting with filling his last Designated Player position while keeping the Red Bulls youthful in the process as they chase that elusive MLS Cup. “I think we’re open to filling the (DP) spot. Our philosophy is in place,” Hamlett said, “We’re going to play younger players, getting the right players that fit the style that we want to play. We’re going to constantly be raising the bar.”