Inside Juan Carlos Osario's New York Coronation
Another year, another coach. Such is the way the that the MLS world turns in New York. I'm just back from the Juan Carlos Osorio press conference/coronation at the Gansevoort. If you're a Chicago Fire fan, please feel free to look away….now.
First off it has to be said that despite whatever your opinions may be of RBNY's product on the field, the quality of hors d'oeuvres at team events has really excelled. Dan at Metrofanatic said this the other day and after inhaling a few of these tiny steaks served on croutons I'd have to agree. There was also coconut shrimp with a mango salsa that I passed on and some delicious-looking mini-burgers that never made it back to me because certain starving reporters housed the entire plate before it made it half-way across the room. Now if you went to an event back in the Metro days you'd see cocktail weenies simmering in a crockpot filled with BBQ sauce; serious gourmet shit for sure.
Vittles aside, the other marked difference in an RBNY presser and a Metro one is the amount of people that show up. Bruce's inauguration had a full house for sure, and so did Osorio's. It's worth noting that if there was any thought of reeling in more Hispanic press with this hire, they hit the upper 90; looking around the room where I was (unusually) not one of the only folks of color, you would have thought the original Ricky Martin-led lineup of Menudo was announcing a reunion tour. The post-conference interviews with Osorio was even broken into two parts, one English & one Spanish, with the Spanish portion definitely appearing like more of a mob scene.
All the usual suspects were in the house, including but not limited to RBNY employees (Jeff Agoos), ex-players (a suave & suited Steve Jolley), pundits (Shep Messing), ESC members (Manimal & Onionsack), lesser known soccer-siblings (Greg Lalas) and well-known soccer scribes (Ives, etc.) Too bad all of these people probably think I'm crazy because I could nerd-out with these people for days.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Before the interviews, RBNY GM Marc DeGrandpre and JCO took to the dais to each give a statement and answer a few questions for those assembled. De Grandpre's statement was very flattering, stating that JCO's "values & vision mirror Red Bull's". Osorio was wise enough to play to the crowd, addressing the room in Spanish before English. I never gave issues of ethincity a thought with this hiring, but the more I think about it a Hispanic coach in this market could be a move that could go miles toward making inroads into a largely disinterested community.
Then it was time for questions and it can't be said that NY's soccer press is afraid to flash some sharp teeth from time to time. First up was the ever-incredible Jack Bell from the New York Times who pulled no punches and brought up allegations of "tampering charges" in regard to the New York franchises' second coach-poach of Chicago. If you happen to have read the transcripts of DeGrandpre's press conference after Bruce Arena left, you know that he's not afraid to ask the questions that people don’t like to answer.
As you can guess DeGrandpre denied such allegations, which were also of interest to Brian Lewis of the New York Post who asked if there was contact with JCO after Fire GM John Guppy denied the club permission to interview Osorio; DeGrandpre again swatted the idea away, and Osorio revealed that it was he who pushed for the interview. Also interesting is that DeGrandpre revealed that it was Jeff Agoos who initially suggested JCO for the job; so for those of you wondering about Goose's job security I think he might be OK for a while.
A reporter from the Associate Press asked JCO what makes him think he can get the job done (that is rescue NY from futboling mediocrity) where so many others have failed, to which there was a reply but not really an answer if you know what I mean; the more things change, the more they stay the same.
And then the venerable curmudgeon Paul Gardner of the New York Sun came through with the funniest, most awkward moment of the afternoon. Addressing DeGrandpre he says (and I'm paraphrasing here) "Bruce Arena was fired for not winning a championship. Will Juan Carlos Osorio be required to win a championship to keep his job next year?" DeGrandpre quickly answered saying that Bruce Arena resigned and was not fired, to which Gardner just says "Really? Oh" in the most condescending, dryly sarcastic way that only an Englishman of a certain age can pull off. I swear to Pele I've never in my life heard a room laugh so quietly to itself.
Lastly, I'll say that it does seem that Osorio has done his homework. Asked what he thought were the teams strengths and weakness's he was quick to point out that the club was third in goals scored, but that the defense needs help (read: is shambolic at times) and that some attack on the left flank is much needed. All in all I think RBNY fans are in capable, if not a little inexperienced, hands. He certainly can’t do much worse than his predecessors.