in , , ,

Route 23 | FM23 Story | #1

Long term readers at Dictate The Game may remember a trilogy featuring a fictional manager, Mason Bradshaw, with a difference from the usual FM story. He was a manager with no previous professional playing experience trying to climb up the ladder in the game.
His career took him from Ards to Braintree and finishing up at Sydney. Just days after winning his first major trophy at Sydney, the dream came crashing down upon him, as he woke up…

Just like the ‘who shot Bobby’ storyline in Dallas, it was all just a dream. Bradshaw in-fact worked in a supermarket and dreamt up the whole trilogy with his colleagues. This included his trusted assistant manager, Andrew Smith, who in reality worked as the store manager (and he was nowhere near 70!)

Mason was inspired by this dream and thought of the iconic quote by Walt Disney and decided to pursue a career in football.

All our dreams can come true if we have courage to pursue them

Walt Disney

Bradshaw started off slow. He took non league jobs, working as a coach at West Essex FC at Step 5, before moving north of the border taking a coaching role at Stirling before finally getting the breakthrough in the states as the head coach of University of North Carolina soccer team. He is now getting his big chance as manager of the New York Red Bulls in Major League Soccer.

We’re following Mason Bradshaw as he attempts to make it big in the worlds game – in real life this time, not during his sleep. This is Route 23. We’ve got full access to the man himself, 24 hours a day. Whatever you want to know, hear or watch about Mason Bradshaw, Route 23 will your one stop shop.

Route 23, a FM23 story


By Mason Bradshaw

Hello, my friends. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’m currently sat on a plane heading to JFK to start my new role as head coach at New York Red Bulls.
It’s certainly been a whirlwind few years since I first made my steps into the beautiful game.
It was a big risk to leave my role as an Assistant Manager at my local supermarket. I had my wife and child to think about. But I knew, following the dream, it was what I had to do.

I started off so small, I did my badges whilst still working. I finally got my first role in football in the non-league game, working as a coach for West Essex. Non league is the beating heart of football. You will never find passion, strength and desire like you will there. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at West Essex, and despite being pipped to promotion by Halstead Town FC. I remain proud of what we achieved there.

The next role came up by chance. I’d been doing some interviews about my entry in to the game and I mentioned that in my dream I’d been sacked by Stirling. Stirling asked me to do their guest of honour at one of their league matches.

But then… one of their coaches fell ill at short notice, and knowing my background now in football, they asked me to fill in for them on an interim 3 month period… which turned into a year and half. Stirling remain a club I will ever be attached to. Everything in my career I owe to Stirling. I wouldn’t be sitting here in business class drinking champagne on my way to manage in the MLS if they didn’t take a chance on the young coach from Brighton.

Moving to the States

My next opportunity is something I’d never forget – and will always push young coaches to take that chance. I ‘crossed the pond’ to become the head coach of the North Carolina University soccer team. I won’t lie… most of my knowledge of the American education system came from movies, including High School Musical (don’t judge…). The American college system is fantastic. So many talented players came through the ranks whilst also studying – giving them another career if their soccer career doesn’t come to fruition.

I wasn’t looking to move on from the university. I’d received a few offers from back home, but America is now my home and we’re currently beginning becoming legalised citizens. I’d not considered that an MLS team would come calling.

When a club like New York Red Bulls come calling, it is very hard to say no. I spoke to my bosses and explained I would like to explore this opportunity. They were very understanding and I leave with full blessing and wish my replacement all the best of luck. Myself and April still have friends in North Carolina so I know for sure, it isn’t the last time I’ll step foot into that campus. I wish all my players at the university all the best of luck. I know, we’ll come face to face one day in the MLS.

To the New York fans, who will be wondering, can this guy bring you success? I know the Red Bulls are hungry for success. A club in such a large market, deserves it. Red Bull Arena is one of the best stadiums in North America. I won’t make any false promises of success, because you never know. But one thing I will promise – is pride, passion and (hopefully) glory.

See you in New York.

The FM Form of Mason Bradshaw!

Mason Bradshaw reinvented in ‘FM form’


If Mason was expecting a quite first few days in charge in the Big Apple, he couldn’t have been more wrong. He’d barely got to sit in his office before the USSF made a major announcement about a restructure to the US soccer pyramid.

Everything Changes…but so quickly?

Well that isn’t the honeymoon Mason was hoping for. It means he will start a brand new league season and not finish the 2022 season as planned.
How does the new pyramid work, we hear you ask? Don’t worry, we have it covered for you…

The season has been moved to the more ‘traditional’ football season of August-May instead of the yearly cycles the MLS previously followed. All trades, contract types and other MLS rules have been removed and the European transfer system has been brought into this new American Soccer League system

Major League Soccer

Major League Soccer has been reduced to 20 teams. The top 7 teams will qualify for the North American Champions League. 8th place will depend on who wins the US Open Cup. The bottom three teams will be relegated to the USSF Championship.

Each team will play each other twice, resulting in a 38 game season.

USSF Championship

The USL Championship has been rebranded as the USSF Championship with all leagues now under the control of the United States Soccer Federation. The league has been closely modelled on the Sky Bet Championship in England. The competition features 24 teams, resulting in a 46 game season.

Three teams will be promoted at the end of the season to play in the MLS. At the other end of the table, another three teams will be waving goodbye to the Championship and moving to the USSF League One.

United States Soccer League One

The new third tier of the US soccer pyramid, United States Soccer League One, also features 24 teams from across the country, removing the East and West aspects of the previous pyramid set up. As with the Championship, each team will play each other twice, playing 46 games in the year.

Three teams will be promoted to the Championship, whilst four will be saying a fond farewell to the league.

United States Soccer League Two

The brand new fourth tier, United States Soccer League Two, is modelled extensively on League Two in England. Featuring 24 teams, resulting in a 46 game match up, four teams will be celebrating success with promotion to League One, whilst two will be reflecting on life in the National League and out of the professional soccer pyramid.

National American League

The creation of a non league pyramid in America has finally arrived with this new league, as the National American League, consists of 24 semi-pro teams from across the country.

The top two teams will be successful in their attempt of reaching the USS pyramid whilst the bottom four will be even further down the non-league pyramid…

American Soccer Conference

Standing fifth in the US soccer pyramid is ‘American Soccer Conference’ featuring 24 teams. The league is similar to the National American League, where two teams will be promoted, and four will be relegated.

National American Premier League Conferences

The bottom league in the pyramid is the National American Premier League, but the league is spread across four conferences, each housing 22 teams with 42 games.

Now the boring bits are out of the way… let’s show Mason’s first few days in the Garden State…

Mason started off by reviewing his squad, and he feels the club is weak in the left back and defensive midfielder areas, so expect that to be his first dippings into the transfer market. On the flip side, he feels like the wingers are strong with both Lewis Morgan and Luquinhas to play on each side.


Bradshaw’s first act in the transfer market is bringing in a MLS veteran as Dax McCarty returns to the RBNY fold after a number of a years away. As first revealed by transfer announcements himself, Fabrizio, the deal cost $150k. It is understood Bradshaw saw him as a crucial addition to the team, not only for his playing ability but also his off-field leadership skills.

The club negotiated a good deal with McCarty, with a promise of wearing his preferred shirt number, and recieving a weekly salary of $5.25k. He has signed until the summer of 2024.

Bradshaw said on signing McCarty, “as soon as I got the job, I knew I had to bring Dax back. He bleeds New York. I couldn’t be happier to have him at Red Bull Arena again”

McCarty said “It wasn’t a secret how I upset I was to leave the Red Bulls last time round. It felt like there was unfinished business. One of my biggest regrets was not being able to win MLS Cup and, I’ll still give my all because this is my team. As long as we’re breathing…”

Many pundits believe McCarty will play in the CDM role that Bradshaw has been brazen about needing more depth in,. McCarty will fit in perfectly as seen in the Squad Planner above. There has been speculation about whether he will make McCarty captain. McCarty previously was captain in his previous spell at New York and also at Nashville.

Bradshaw refused to comment whether he would be making a change of change. Instead simply stating, “I have a number of top professional players who lead by example.”

Players Are Important But So Are Staff!

With the first player through the door, the focus turned to the backroom team beginning to form under Bradshaw’s management.

The first new staff member to walk through the doors in New Jersey was Andrew Smith, long term friend of Mason Bradshaw. The forty-six year old, joined from University of North Carolina, as assistant manager.




Mason Bradshaw is back! Join us at Route 23 with our Access All Areas pass to watch the rookie Englishman take charge of the New York Red Bulls. We’ll see it all from the transfer signings, the team talks to the wins and losses. We’ll hear from Mason himself, his family, his colleagues, the media and much more.

Mason dreamed of a being a football manager (literally). It is now up to him to make the dream a reality. Can he be successful in the new top flight of the US soccer pyramid? Or will he end up falling through the leagues?

Find out on Route 23, a FM23 story, released every two-three weeks at

If you’ve loved this article, why not check out other DTG articles?

An end note from the writer about Route 23, a FM story

The Bradshaw trilogy is back! I rested Mason for a few years but I knew as soon as FM22 came out, it was time to call up Mason and tell him to stop travelling and get some coaching experience. I did wrestle with my thoughts giving the Bradshaw saga a fourth installment. A trilogy can be perfect, look at Back to the Future. The fourth films in a franchise sometimes don’t quite hit the same, look at Jaws IV and Vegas Vacation. and simply, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Chip. We all watched it, it was okay, but didn’t hit the same as the other three…

Why bring it back then? The Squad Planner is perfect for the Bradshaw saga, seeing the journey from the beginning to the end of the career, so I knew FM22 was the perfect time to get Mason back to the world’s game. I also found a 7 tier USA soccer pyramid which I felt was perfect for the save.

Mason is back. Welcome to Route 23, a FM23 Story

Written by Luke Hume

Luke is the Assistant Manager at Dictate The Game, and he has been a trusted part of the team since joining in August 2016.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Football Manager 2023 Recruitment Breakdown

Defence-First Football: Disciplined and Sensible Management in Football Manager 2023