NEW YORK -- Juan Carlos Osorio will have some leeway in his first season as the latest coach of the New York Red Bulls. He won't have to win the MLS Cup championship next year.
Osorio joins the Red Bulls after half a season with the Chicago Fire, who rallied from last place in the Eastern Conference to come within one game of the MLS Cup.
He replaces former U.S. national team manager Bruce Arena, who resigned in November after 1½ years. At the time, Red Bulls managing director Marc de Grandpre said winning the MLS Cup was the expectation the club had with Arena.
"Juan will not be fired if we don't win the championship," de Grandpre said Tuesday in introducing the club's 11th coach in its 12-year history. "As long as we can look our fans in the eyes and tell them we left everything on the field, that's what we want."
With Osorio, the Red Bulls have had nearly twice as many coaches in than any other MLS club, only two of whom finished with winning records.
"With all due respect for the previous coaches, I think what makes me different, personally, is that I'm a well-balanced coach," Osorio said.
The Red Bulls, who have had only five winning seasons in their 12 years, hope Osorio can overcome their seemingly star-crossed club's fortunes and succeed where other managers such as Arena, World Cup champion Carlos Alberto Parreira and Bora Milutinovic have not.
"I believe his work ethic will rid us this 'mystical force,' if there is one," de Grandpre said.
Osario came to the United States from Colombia in 1984 and spent all but three of the next 16 years in the New York area. He played for second-division professional teams in the area as well as coaching. He was an assistant in 2000 and 2001 with the MetroStars, which were bought by Red Bull and renamed last year. He left in 2001 for become an assistant at Manchester City in the English Premier League.
He returned to MLS in July, taking over Chicago after a season as manager at Millonarios in Colombia.
"Playing professionally in Colombia, I learned the offensive side," Osorio said. "Now, after six years in England, as some famous basketball players say, you learn defense wins championships. I learned in England defense is an important part of the game."
Osorio said he and his wife, Juliett, wanted to return to New York. He also felt the chance to coach the Red Bulls was an opportunity he didn't want to lose.
"It was the combination of family and football reasons," Osorio said. "You want to have challenges, and this is the biggest challenge there is in MLS.
"Not to take anything away from Chicago, but when I left 2001 I made it a goal to come back to New York. I just didn't think the opportunity would come this soon," he said.