Compared to Landon Donovan's trip to Cambodia, Jesse Marsch's six-month backpacking adventure around the world with his family didn't get much attention.
Actually, it got no attention, which is fine with Marsch, who parted ways with the Montreal Impact last November after his first year on the job as an MLS head coach. Marsch declined to discuss the details of the split with MLSsoccer.com, but he did say this: He wasn't looking for attention when he, Kim and their three children took off on their journey.
"One thing I'll say I didn't do a great job of during my time coaching in Montreal was balancing my family life and my professional life,” he said. “So, whatever I did next, I wanted to make sure it was with my wife and kids."
Marsch and his wife, Kim, had both read stories of families that spent as much as two years together traveling the world, home-schooling their children while they see as much of the world as they can.
"It probably took a good month of research and talking and thinking before we finally said, 'let's do it,'" Marsch said. "So we left in January. We have maybe eight to 10 friends that we know in odd places around the world, and we tried to connect the dots. And in between seeing those people, we made side plans. It turned into the trip of a lifetime."
The trip started in Hong Kong. The family – which includes daughter Emma (11) and sons Maddux (9) and Lennon (6) – then went to Singapore and all through Southeast Asia. That portion of the trip took about two months as the family hopped trains, buses, boats and other means of transportation to get around. Next came India and Nepal. Then they flew to Dubai and Egypt. Then Israel and Jordan. And then Europe.
As one might expect with Marsch – who lives and breathes soccer as much as anyone who's ever played in MLS – the trip was not without its ties to the game.
In Dubai, they stayed with Pierre Barrieu, the former strength and conditioning coach for the US national team who's now working in the same position for the United Arab Emirates. In Egypt, they spent time with former US coach Bob Bradley, who was Marsch's coach at Princeton and with the Chicago Fire and Chivas USA.
In Belgium, they paid a visit to former Chivas USA teammate Sacha Kljestan (above). In the Czech Republic, they went to see Chicago Fire teammate Lubos Kubik, who now works for Slavia Prague.
"I made it a little bit of a soccer trip, too," said Marsch. "I got to see what some friends and former teammates are doing in different parts of the world. That was educational."
If there was one similarity between Donovan's famous sabbatical and the Marsch Family trip it's that Jesse says he came home, "fully recharged and ready to get back into it."
To that end, the man who played 14 years in MLS for three teams has already accepted a job. He’s working at Princeton – where he graduated in 1996 – as a volunteer assistant coach to long-time head coach and former teammate Jim Barlow.
"I'm patiently waiting to take another shot," Marsch said. "My focus is to get another job in MLS. I feel I'm a good fit for what goes on in the league, I trust my leadership style and I think what we did during my one year in Montreal shows I have a pretty good overall sense of what the league is all about and what it takes to be successful."
Marsch said he's kept an eye on the Impact, is happy for the players and with the way the team has performed to this point in the season. Both Marsch and the club termed the parting a "mutual agreement,' and Marsch said he's fine in keeping with those words.
"I just want to keep learning about the game," Marsch said. "Working with Jimmy at Princeton is hopefully going to help me continue to improve as a coach. A lot of people have said to me, 'That's nice you're helping him,' but I don't look at it that way. I think there's a lot I can learn being with him and his team on the field every day. And, yeah, when all is said and done, I hope someone else will give me an opportunity in MLS."