LOS ANGELES – Fear not, Red Bulls faithful. Jesse Marsch says he wasn’t in Europe to contemplate swapping New York for Salzburg or Leipzig.
Marsch was noticeably absent as all 22 MLS technical staffs descended on Southern California this week for the MLS Combine ahead of Friday’s SuperDraft. Multiple sources told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday that Marsch was in serious talks to take the head coaching job at Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg, also owned by Red Bull along with German Bundesliga side RB Leipzig.
On Thursday, the Red Bulls released a statement reaffirming Marsch would be on the bench in Harrison for the 2017 season to end the speculation. Ahead of the SuperDraft, Marsch added his side to public uncertainty that had enveloped the club in his absence, confirming that he’d been in Austria for meetings ahead of the holiday season then in Portugal to spend time with RB Leipzig at their winter camp as the calendar turned to 2017.
“Since the new year, I haven’t been in Salzburg. I’ve been in Portugal with Leipzig,” Marsch said. “There’s been no contact with Salzburg. I was there before Christmas just to spend time with both clubs and watch what’s going on there. I’m the New York Red Bulls coach … Nothing’s ever changed other than now facilitating our relationship with our clubs over there. I’m the New York Red Bulls coach. Period.”
In his first two years with the Red Bulls, Marsch, 43, led the club to the Supporters’ Shield in 2015 and the top record in the Eastern Conference in 2016. Only FC Dallas have totaled more regular season points than the Red Bulls in the last two years.
As for missing the Combine games, Marsch said he and his staff made a “tactical decision” to split responsibilities and that he watched the games online and was familiar with the players available thanks to multiple years of scouting.
And while he’s going nowhere for now, Marsch reiterated that he’s open to change if the opportunity is right.
“I’ll take it as a compliment that people even think that that’s a potential avenue for me,” he said. “I’ve already said publicly that I’m an ambitious guy and an ambitious coach. Certainly the opportunity to challenge myself in leagues that are at the highest level is something that interests me very much. But again, right now all my focus has been on the New York Red Bulls.”
Could the fact that Red Bull own and operate two clubs at the highest level in Europe facilitate such a move in the future?
“In theory, [yes],” Marsch said, “and the fact that I have relationships with people over there obvious has potential for further opportunities down the road. Right now, the discussions have been about me being the New York Red Bulls head coach.”
The goal, as always, for New York is capturing their first-ever MLS Cup, and the club stands to benefit from their head coach’s time in Salzburg and with Leipzig.
“There’s a lot of shared ideas and a shared system,” Marsch said. “What’s really great when you go to Leipzig is the level of detail, the level of technology, the level of training and playing at all levels that now is proven to be one of the highest in Europe. To learn from them, to be around them, to integrate with their whole staff is a real privilege. I think it’s helped me a lot, so I’ll be ready to use some of that information to make us better this year.”