Erik Soler is out as the general manager and sporting director of the New York Red Bulls and will be replaced by former Monaco president Jerome de Bontin, the club announced on Tuesday. There was no reason given for the change, but Soler will apparently remain with the club as an internal advisor. Gerard Houllier, who was named Head of Global Soccer for Red Bull in July, will oversee the soccer side of things.
The timing of the move seems particularly odd as the Red Bulls are in the midst of a playoff push and have actually been playing reasonably well as of late. They are 4-1-3 in their past eight matches and their 53 points is tied for the third highest total in MLS.
Soler, a former Norway international, took over the Red Bulls following the 2009 season and was largely credited with engineering a turnaround which saw his team go from last place in 2009 to the top seed in the Eastern Conference in 2010. Among his more notable signings were Thierry Henry, Rafael Marquez and Joel Lindpere. He also hired head coach Hans Backe, who could well find himself on the hot seat if the Red Bulls fail to make the MLS Cup finals this year.
Born in Paris, de Bontin studied in the United States and has worked within United States Soccer Federation for several years.
Also French, Houllier was most recently the manager of Liverpool (1998-2004), Lyon (2005-07) and Aston Villa (2010-11).
For more insight and analysis of the move, be sure to check out Once a Metro.