While the overhaul of the New York Red Bulls first team continues this offseason, the changes at youth and reserve level continue to be even more rapid.
According to Jeremiah Oshan of Sounder At Heart, Seattle Sounders academy director Gary Lewis has left the club to take a new job as head coach of the New York Red Bulls II reserve side. Lewis will be replacing longtime Red Bulls player and official John Wolyniec, who left the role at the end of 2021.
Like Red Bulls sporting chief Kevin Thelwell, Lewis is originally from the English province of Cheshire, and his coaching career began in nearby Merseyside where he served as a youth coach at Everton before spending six years as head of youth development at rivals Liverpool.
Lewis first moved to America in 2014, spending a year with youth academy outfit Football Club USA before becoming U17 manager at Philadelphia Union in 2015. After four years in Philadelphia where he played a role in developing talents such as Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie, Lewis switched coasts to join the Seattle Sounders academy operation in 2019. After a year as U17 coach in the Emerald City, Lewis was named Seattle’s academy director at the beginning of 2020. Lewis has additionally freelanced as an assistant coach and licensing course teacher with the United States Soccer Federation.
As written by Eric Friedlander for OaM last year, the reserve operation in New York has been one of the central focuses of Thelwell’s modernizing effort since arriving at the club two years ago. After the early years of RB2 featured Wolyniec seasoning SuperDraft picks and pursuing older reclamation projects such as Aaron Long, the reserve side’s makeup has changed considerably since 2020, with Thelwell stating the need to get academy players professional minutes at younger ages as a priority.
Thelwell’s academy director Sean McCafferty played a central role in advising and constructing the USL squad last year, and a shift towards a more credentialed youth coach is a less-than-surprising development. While the RB2’s competitive future is unclear as it enters what could be its final year in the USL system before likely joining the newly-founded MLS Next Pro league, the purview and intent of the reserves are now plain to see.