Chris Armas has been part of the New York Red Bulls coaching staff since 2015. He was among the first appointments to the club's technical staff after Jesse Marsch was installed as head coach by (at the time) sporting director Ali Curtis, and he's stuck with the team ever since.
Armas had something of a low profile for his first two seasons at RBNY - he was merely a junior assistant coach, after all - but he has been more visible this year. Depending on your perspective, this is either the entirely predictable consequence of his promotion to primary assistant coach after Denis Hamlett moved up to fill the role of sporting director, or perhaps it is gentle signaling from RBNY of its intentions for the team's future when and if Marsch moves on from the head coach's job. It could, of course, be both.
Certainly, it has been made clear in recent months that Armas is thought to be a future MLS head coach - though he shares that designation with a lot of up-and-coming tacticians and the fulfillment of that potential is not entirely within his control. Still, he will get his first opportunity to show a wider audience something of what the fuss about on June 14 when RBNY plays New York City FC in the fourth round of the 2017 edition of US Open Cup.
In last year's USOC, RBNY's exit from the tournament was punctuated by Jesse Marsch's emphatic objection to what he perceived to be increasingly lopsided refereeing in favor of Philadelphia Union. Marsch was ejected from the game as his team's hopes of advancing expired.
Traditionally, a formal ejection from a match brings a coach a suspension. But since it has been almost a year since RBNY last played USOC - and since US Soccer apparently forgot to formally announce Marsch would be suspended for his team's first (and potentially last) appearance in this year's competition in punishment for his transgressions last season - there was some uncertainty within the club as to whether or not the coach would be allowed on the sidelines for the game against NYCFC.
SBI's Glenn Crooks joined the dots, reporting that Marsch will indeed be suspended for the match.
SBI Soccer has learned that U.S Soccer informed the club on Monday afternoon that Marsch must serve a suspension for the derby at Red Bull Arena
And Marsch's absence will make Chris Armas the senior RBNY coach on the sidelines for the game on June 14.
Someone in the Smurfs Front Office furiously replacing "Jesse" with "Chris" for Vieira's pre-written insults and complaints. #RBNY— Scott Six (@scottsix) June 13, 2017
We won't learn a great deal about Armas as a head coach from one game - he'll be working to the tactical plan drawn up in training under Marsch's guidance - so this USOC match is hardly a referendum on his future. But it is perhaps a glimpse of his future. And if he is indeed tapped as Marsch's successor at RBNY, it might be a glimpse of the Red Bulls' future also.