Bradley Carnell Named As First St Louis City SC Head Coach
The future is here. Bradley Carnell has been announced as the first ever head coach of St. Louis CITY SC. In a press conference held this morning, January 5th with media, our Sporting Director Lutz Pfannenstiel introduced the longtime New York Red Bull assistant coach to the world as CITY's inaugural head coach. VP of Public Relations, Courtney Mueller opened things up setting the stage, following by remarks from club owner and CEO, Carolyn Kindle Betz, who then introduced Sporting Director Lutz Pfannenstiel. Lutz spoke multiple times about the goal of the club always being to find their head coach by January 2022, to give the time necessary to set up and build a first-class club right from the start. Lutz then introduced the inaugural head coach for CITY - Bradley Carnell. In prepared comments, Carnell noted that his role as interim head coach in 2020 for New York Red Bulls prepared him immensely along with his years in MLS to know the league. He also spoke of the current Academy and MLS Next Pro team being a massive opportunity to have one year in advance and said, "it's the reason I was so desperate to come so early." You really get the sense that the same opportunities that pulled Lutz to St. Louis were successful in landing Bradley Carnell.
The press conference then shifted into a Q&A session with media members in attendance. A lot of the same talking points were repeated here as in some articles that dropped today such as on Transfermarkt and Sports Illustrated. Some interesting points to call out from the press conference include:
⦁ By coming on more than a year in advance, Carnell will focus on the first team but will be involved in the Academy and Next Pro teams by scouting and seeing who may be ready for the first team. Lutz mentioned it would be a chance in 2022 for these players to prove themselves to Carnell. This could manifest itself in who would be ready to sign Homegrown Player contracts with CITY later in 2022.
⦁ Carnell repeatedly said, and was echoed by Lutz, that they have a huge network of scouting both inside and outside MLS, so they have no worries about finding the best players - but their focus will be finding the player who fits their system and philosophy the best.
⦁ Bradley confirmed that when the Manchester United calls and rumors came out about joining their staff, he had already agreed with St. Louis CITY SC to be their first head coach. He mentioned he's a man of his word and had already committed, plus he thought of his family and how they adapted to the American lifestyle and call America their home for the near to mid term future.
⦁ Regarding signing players and a timeline - they have a blank canvas to work with. Carnell will work with Lutz and Director of Coaching, John Hackworth to complement the roster of the MLS Next Pro side and signings of next year. He mentioned looking at the European calendar season ending in May, they could bring in some international players, but would also look domestically and in South America in particular later this year.
⦁ Lutz said they had hundreds of candidates and applicants but wanted someone to fill all their boxes - MLS experience who knows the league, teams & stadiums well as well as is hungry and driven to grow themselves and continue proving themselves too. Carnell was first on their list and the #1 candidate for St. Louis CITY SC.
There will undoubtedly be much more to come regarding Carnell as the CITY 2 team starts up in March and players are signed to that roster along with a possibility that 1st team players begin to be signed in May or later. The club's app will no doubt be a source of information as well along with us and the numerous podcasts, as we all clamor to land an interview with the newest head honcho for CITY.
Additionally, 2 months ago the Athletic first published the news that St. Louis CITY SC was in talks with Bradley Carnell. I published a story with details on who he is and what he will bring to the club. That story is reproduced below and is a good primer and history for who our head coach is and where he comes from.
Rumors are starting to become somewhat commonplace, if not yet frequent, for St. Louis CITY SC, with The Athletic becoming a regular source to break information. Previously, John Hackworth's hiring by CITY was reported by The Athletic months in advance of the club announcing him and now, collaborative reporting by Jeff Rueter, Sam Stejskal, and Paul Tenorio have named Bradley Carnell as a target of interest by CITY SC for the MLS head coaching position. Carnell is currently an assistant coach with New York Red Bulls. He is a South African native with World Cup experience as a defender in 2002 as well as a frequent selection for their national team through 2010. He's been with clubs in South Africa and Germany including Kaizer Chiefs, VfB Stuttgart, Borussia Monchengladbach. His coaching resume prior to MLS includes positions in South Africa with the University of Johannesburg's Varsity Cup team, an assistant at Free State Stars and as an assistant in the Premier Soccer League, the topflight in South Africa. He is also a longtime associate/friend of our Sporting Director, Lutz Pfannenstiel, as a player in a charitable match and ambassador in Lutz' organization, Global United, dating back to 2015. Lutz no doubt took notice also from Carnell's playing time in Germany with Stuttgart. But for CITY SC, the real excitement comes from what he has done since 2017 with NYRB.
Carnell has served under three different head coaches, Jesse Marsch, Chris Armas, and currently under Gerhard Struber. In September 2020, after NYRB parted ways with Chris Armas, Carnell was named interim head coach. Carnell carried the reigns through the end of that season, leading Red Bulls to a 6-5-3 record and a playoff appearance. His experience working under three different regimes is both noteworthy and unique. It is not abnormal for a new head coach to turn over their staff to one that either aligns with their philosophy or to bring in assistants they are more familiar with. His surviving three head coaches is clearly a testament to his knowledge, coaching ability, and the trust placed in him by multiple top level people in MLS.
One aspect that I have long hoped CITY would find in their first head coach, is MLS experience. We are entering a unique league in the world's game, from roster building, style of play, fixture congestion, playoffs, and player management, there are a lot of specifics to MLS that those entering the league for the first time have struggled with. In fact, dating back to 2006 - 15 years - every MLS Cup title winner has had at least 2 years of experience as a head coach in MLS prior to their club winning the title. Of those, only 5 of them - Jason Kreis (09 RSL), Gary Smith (10 COL), Caleb Porter (15 POR), Greg Vanney (17 TOR) and Tata Martino (18 ATL) - were still with their first MLS club as head coach. MLS experience on the head coaching level matters in this league. If you can find that in your first head coach, and everything else such as how their vision and style aligns with Lutz and Hackworth in the sporting department aligns, then that is enough to get me excited. We know how The Athletic's reporting panned out for Hackworth so it will be interesting to see if they can go 2/2 in accurately breaking CITY SC news.
By Matt Baker