Richie Williams won't be patrolling the Red Bulls' technical area in 2011. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
In what can be best described as a very surprising turn of events, several sources have reported that the New York Red Bulls fired Assistant Coach Richie Williams and Goalkeeping Coach Des McAleenan on Monday for "repeated violations of team rules." The story originated with The Washington Post's Steve Goff, and has been picked up by a number of other media outlets. The New York Post's Brian Lewis tweeted confirmation from Red Bulls General Manager Eric Solér, although the club has yet to post any news of the firings on its website.
McAleenan had been with the Red Bulls/MetroStars since 2002, coaching New York goalkeepers from Tim Howard and Tony Meola to Danny Cepero and most recently Bouna Coundoul. Williams played for the MetroStars in 2001 and 2003 before joining the coaching staff in 2006, and the former US international midfielder served as interim head coach in the summer of 2006 and for the final eight games of the 2009 season.
The Red Bulls have not specified what rules the two violated, although Goff claimed that "punctuality" was cited as the reason by one source. The decision may also have been related to Jan Halvor Halvorsen joining the club as another assistant coach. I'll leave the inevitable back(e)stabbing puns for the comments section....whoops.
The decision comes at an awkward time for the Red Bulls, who are entering the final stages of their pre-season with MLS First Kick just over two weeks away. New York has also run into problems with the fitness of its forward line, as Juan Agudelo and Luke Rodgers have been injured in the past few days, and Salou Ibrahim looks more and more likely to be cut from the team's roster. The Red Bulls face Mexican club Atlas in the marquee game of their pre-season on March 8th, and it's unclear who will start alongside Thierry Henry on New York's forward line.