|photo by Matt Kremkau
by Anthony J. Merced
Red Bull News Network had the chance to communicate with former New York Red Bulls head coach Gerhard Struber, now the manager of Red Bull Salzburg in the Austrian Bundesliga. Struber was with New York from the end of the 2020 campaign through to the early part of 2023. Along the way he secured two playoff berths, a seventh and fourth place finish in 2021 and 2022 respectively. While his time was ended abruptly in MLS, his memories of the American version of the game have helped him prepare for such a monumental task in Europe.
You spent nearly three seasons in Major League Soccer with the New York Red Bulls, what did you learn from that experience that has made you a different coach at Red Bull Salzburg?
Struber: In addition to the sporting aspects, there is a lot that I was able to gain from my work at New York Red Bulls. Any work in a foreign country not only brings you closer to the language, but also to the culture and mentality of the people. I learned English much better and I also learned to understand Americans better. It became clear to me that the 'classic' American is very different from us Austrians.
Much like New York, Salzburg is consistently a young team cycling players in and out of the squad. How important is your football philosophy in order to accomplish getting results and developing players?
Struber: Having a clear playing philosophy is important in any case, no matter how young the players are. This is not just for here me personally, but even more so for the entire club. All players, coaches, supervisorsor employees should have a clear philosophy, a predetermined mission statement and be able to orient themselves towards it.
Salzburg have dominated Austria for a decade, with the Champions League starting, how important is it for the team to progress into the knockout stage of the competition?
Struber: First and foremost, it is important for us to be able to convey our style of football in this high-quality Champions League. This is very important for the development of our players at the highest level. If we can then make it to the knockout phase that will be nice and a goal from now on. However it's not a basic requirement.
Players like Benjamin Sesko and Nicholas Seiwald have departed the club yet it always seems as if there is someone ready to take their place. How important is scouting to the success of Salzburg?
Struber: Our goal at the club is to play football as successfully as possible while developing young players and enabling them to have a career at the top European level. The club has proven this quite impressively over the last few years. Of course, this also means that we need new talent for those players who then move to big clubs. This requires the best possible scouting. We attach great importance to this at FC Red Bull Salzburg.
Your time in Major League Soccer ended abruptly, what were the positive experiences you remember from your time in the United States?
Struber: I had the extraordinary opportunity to meet interesting people and make new friends. At the same time, we were successful with our young team over long periods and reached the playoffs. That was also a nice experience that I remember fondly.