Emil Forsberg: New York Red Bulls ‘want to do something big’ in 2024

One of New York Red Bulls’ recent more high-profile signings Emil Forsberg has high hopes and expectations of leading his new team to glory.

New York shelled out a reported transfer fee of $3.3m to acquire the Sweden international’s services from Bundesliga and fellow Red Bull side RB Leipzig, a statement signing that ushered in a new era at Red Bull Arena.

Forsberg’s arrival turns New York into contenders for a top-four spot, as they look to build on their record of qualifying for MLS Cup playoffs for 14 consecutive seasons — a record for a North American professional sports team — to eventually lift their first-ever MLS Cup.

They’ve found just the right person to lead their quest for glory, as the 32-year-old — who signed with RBNY on a three-year deal through the 2026 season with an option for 2027 — lifted four trophies during his time in Sweden with Malmo and three pieces of silverware during his legendary time with Leipzig, where he holds the record for most assists and second-most appearances.

“I think it’s a fantastic league with a lot of quality,” Forsberg said of the state of MLS exclusively to 90min. “It’s gonna be really fun and then for myself and the team we have big expectations. We want  to do something big and yeah, [my] expectations are in every way high.”

Forsberg, who featured 325 times for Die Roten Bullen in competitions like the UEFA Champions and Europa Leagues, isn’t the only figure heading to New York from Germany. First-year head coach Sandro Schwarz is set to take the touchline at Red Bull Arena after stints with Hertha Berlin and Mainz in his native Germany while also coaching Dinamo Moscow in Russia.

“Yeah, we talked in Germany”, said Forsberg of his first meeting with Schwarz. “So I talked to him and  I know what he wants and I know what I want to do and have to do, but it’s not about me, it’s about  the team, we have to achieve this together. I’m looking forward to meeting them.

“I’m looking forward to meeting [my teammates]. I haven’t met them yet…so  I’m  really  looking  forward to it. First and foremost I want to build a strong team, like a togetherness, a mentality that  says we can win everything together, achieve everything together, and that means every training,  every game 100%.”

While Forsberg is set on adding to his trophy cabinet, he still wants to enjoy the ride with his new club in a new country.

 “And on the way have fun, because that is…also very important for me to have fun on the way. It’s  not going to be easy, but if we can push each other every day we’re gonna have a lot of fun,” he said.

As Forsberg is one of the more notable signings in MLS this offseason, there’s plenty of pressure on him to perform at the highest level like he did in Germany and Sweden. However, he explains that he thrives on the pressure and shouldering responsibility.

“I feel comfortable in that role. I don’t have any problems with it; I like the pressure, I think it means  that you’ve been doing something good and that you are something good, so to say,” Forsberg said.

Emil Forsberg, Jochen SchneiderEmil Forsberg, Jochen Schneider

Forsberg is ready for the season ahead / Howard Smith/ISI Photos/GettyImages

The Sundsvall, Sweden native with over 500 club appearances to his name once again emphasized the point that the team is greater than the individual.

“But I mean, we’re going to do it as a team and I’ve experienced this kind of way before and I’m  comfortable in that role,” he said. “I know what to do and hopefully I can do it. But I’m not alone. I want  to do it with my teammates, with my guys and that’s why I’m really excited to get to know them. Every  player is important.

“I can’t wait to get started. So the role I’m comfortable with, and I’m sure we’re going to have a good  journey together.”

Many might think that Forsberg could struggle to adapt to the long, challenging MLS season in which Red Bulls will embark on not only a 34-game regular season plus the postseason, but they’ll also take part in US Open Cup, Leagues Cup and Concacaf Champions Cup should they qualify for 2025.

But Forsberg believes that playing year-round in Europe for his club and national team has helped prepare him for his new challenge in MLS.

“I think it will be no problem,” he said. “We had a lot of games in Europe as well. Every time we had a  break,  it  was [time for the] national team and I love to play football, so just throw me the football  games and I’ll play. 

“I’m so motivated and happy to be here and I’m happy. I just want to have a fantastic year with the  Red Bulls, with my team and achieve big things.”

Forsberg revealed that while there isn’t a specific team he’s eager to play against, he was quick to point out that a matchup with Inter Miami and Lionel Messi is one he’s excited for and praised the quality that Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino has at his disposal.

“I played against the best players in the world for a while now, and I think it makes a lot of good  players, and I’m just excited to play every team.

“Of course, it’s going to be special when you have a kind of guy [like] Messi in the MLS. He’s the best  player in the history [of the sport], so, I mean, of course, he’s always going to be special to play  against him,  but hopefully we can win. 

“It’s not going to be easy with him, [Sergio] Busquets, [Jordi] Alba, and they have a fantastic team,  but we want to build also. We want to go somewhere and achieve something and I have a strong  belief in my team, in our club.”

Forsberg, who represented Sweden at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, also explained that he likes to let his play do the talking on the pitch: “We want to achieve something big, I mean, it’s easy to say it. That’s  why I don’t like to talk about it too much because you can sit here and you can talk about it all day.

“But in the end, you have to do it on the pitch and that’s why I can’t wait to go out on the pitch and  just have fun with the guys, [to] push them and together we can achieve something,” he said.

Red Bulls and Forsberg, along with new head coach Schwarz, are set to being their 2024 season on February 25 against Nashville SC and Hany Mukhtar at GEODIS Stadium.

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