Red Bulls announce new head coach, acquire Forsberg from RB Leipzig

The New York Red Bulls offseason overhaul continued this past week with two major transactions sure to dramatically shape the team in 2024.

On Thursday, the Red Bulls announced the hiring of Sandro Schwarz as its next head coach. Schwarz, a native of Mainz Germany, arrives in Harrison after head coaching stints at FC Eschborn, FSV Mainz 05, Dynamo Moscow and most recently, Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga.

“I look forward to joining the club and getting started soon,” Schwarz said in a press release issued by the team. “I have a lot of motivation to accomplish many great things with this club and I am excited to get to work for the upcoming season.

Schwarz first got into coaching as an assistant at SV Wehen Wiesbaden in 2009 following the conclusion of a 12-year playing career overseas.

Schwarz replaces Troy Lesesne, who helped lead the Red Bulls to a 14-10-8 record after being named head coach on May 8 following the club’s mutual parting of the ways with Gerhard Struber.

On Nov. 14, the Red Bulls announced Lesesne’s contract would not be removed, a day which also saw sporting director Denis Hamlett fired after seven seasons in the position.

“We are very pleased to welcome Sandro to the club,” said Red Bulls Head of Sport Jochen Schneider in the press release. “Sandro is a great leader that fits our culture and his head coaching experience in Europe fits with what we are trying to accomplish. We are excited to get him here and begin working towards success in 2024.”

Two days later, the Red Bulls added what it believes will be a piece of that 2024 success when it announced the transfer of Swedish international midfielder Emil Forsberg from RB Leipzig.

According to the Red Bulls’ announcement, Forsberg, who will fill one of the team’s Designated Player spots, will sign a three-year contract with an option for 2027.

“We are very excited to add a player of Emil’s caliber to our club, the amount of experience he has in Europe will be a great addition to our roster,” Schneider said in a press release. “We are grateful for the support from Red Bull Soccer. This transfer showcases the Red Bull philosophy of high-intensity and attacking soccer and the power of our multi-club eco system which will benefit our club.

“Emil is an amazing talent with a skillset that will particularly help develop young players and we cannot wait to see him take the pitch at Red Bull Arena in 2024.”

The 32-year-old Forsberg recorded 71 goals and 68 assists in a nine-season stint at RB Leipzig, spanning 324 appearances.

Forsberg has also played for Sweden’s National Team since 2014, where he has 21 goals and nine assists in 86 international appearances. His play with the National Team led to him being named Swedish Midfielder of the Year four times and the 2021 Guldbollen Award, given to Sweden’s male player of the year.

“Emil’s experience in Europe will be very valuable to the locker room and we are looking forward to welcoming him to the club,” Schwarz said. “He is a great attacking midfielder that will provide much value to our midfield this season.”

Last season, the Red Bulls went 11-13-10 to finish with 43 points and qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs for the 14th consecutive year.

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Jason Bernstein | Observer Sports Writer

Jason Bernstein joined The Observer as its sports writer in March 2022, following the retirement of Jim Hague. He has a wealth of sports-writing experience, including for NJ Advance Media (, The Jersey Journal, The Star-Ledger.)