The New York Red Bulls' preseason is underway. The team left for Orlando this morning with at least a few not-officially-on-the-roster faces, about whom we will doubtless hear more in due course.
One recently-rumored addition to the club has, however, been confirmed by a Kristian Dyer source within RBNY: Denis Hamlett will join Jesse Marsch's staff as an assistant coach.
As Dyer points out on BigAppleSoccer.com, Ives Galarcep reported this deal about 10 days ago.
The club has been oddly slow to issue any sort of official confirmation, but we assume it is tied up with snow and a self-inflicted PR crisis (Also, Galarcep's tweet came on the day of the Super Draft). Expect an avalanche of press releases shortly.
If and when confirmed, Hamlett would be reuniting with a man he has worked with for a considerable portion of his career. Jesse Marsch joined Chicago Fire in 1998 (the team's inaugural season), and spent his entire time there watched by Hamlett, who was an assistant coach. Marsch, Hamlett and the Fire won MLS Cup (in 1998), the Supporters' Shield (2003), and US Open Cup (three times: 1998, 2000 and 2003), as well as twice losing the MLS Cup final (2000 and 2003), in their time together in Chicago.
After Marsch left in 2005, Hamlett and the Fire picked up another US Open Cup (2006). The long-time assistant was promoted to the head coaching job in Chicago in 2008 (taking over from Juan Carlos Osorio, who had answered the call to damage his reputation at RBNY). In back-to-back seasons, Hamlett took the Fire to the Eastern Conference final, losing on both occasions to the eventual MLS Cup winner (Columbus Crew in 2008; Real Salt Lake in 2009).
And then he was fired. The Fire has been to the playoffs once since. A loyal servant of his club (Hamlett was reportedly the first person team president Peter Wilt hired for the expansion team) summarily dismissed after a promising two-year stint as head coach? The new assistant coach may have some insight into RBNY's preferred team management methods.
Since leaving Chicago, Hamlett has spent time coaching at the college level (at the Illinois Institute of Technology), Vancouver Whitecaps (appointed as an assistant to Teitur Thordarson and moved along once the club started clearing out for Martin Rennie to take over as head coach), and Montreal Impact - where he joined Marsch's staff as an assistant, and briefly worked as a scout after the head coach who hired him was let go.
This will be the third time Hamlett and Marsch have worked together professionally. Perhaps more pertinently, given RBNY's alleged new economy-mode and apparent effort to cut ties with the achievements of its recent past, it will be the first time Hamlett has been hired by a MLS club not in its inaugural season.
He has made a career out of joining teams in start-up mode, without yet finding a stable enough environment to help build the sort of consistent success he was part of in Chicago. Maybe he was first-time lucky with the Fire, or perhaps the third attempt to recapture whatever went right from 1998 to 2009 will prove to be the charm.