Jesse Marsch is blazing a trail in Europe as the first American to coach – and win a match – in the UEFA Champions League as he leads Austrian powers Red Bull Salzburg.
Now the former New York Red Bulls and Montreal Impact head coach has opened up about his experiences across the Atlantic for a CNN feature story, addressing a range of topics from his mentor Bob Bradley’s short, difficult stint in the English Premier League in charge of Swansea City to the crucial support provided to Marsch by Red Bull’s global soccer operation.
“I don't just want to be some American guy trying to coach. I want to try to really embody so much more than that,” said Marsch, who won MLS Coach of the Year honors in 2015 as he led RBNY to the Supporters’ Shield, the highlight of his three and a half years in charge and his first step on what’s proved to be a long and fruitful tenure in Red Bull’s multinational network of clubs and affiliates.
“When I moved to [RB] Leipzig [as an assistant under Ralf Rangnick], there had been a previous relationship, so I had known the people and I wasn't really treated like an American,” he explained. “I was treated like a young coach that was coming up through the system that they believed in and I think it's helped. That kind of support has helped me be successful in general in this world.
“Whether it's the Premier League, whether it's the Austrian Bundesliga, coaches need to be surrounded by environments where people believe in them and support them,” he added.
Marsch learned German to better communicate with players and staff at Leipzig and Salzburg, and took a very realistic tone when asked about his prospects of someday prospering where Bradley fell short in the EPL.
“How will an American make their way specifically into a place like the Premier League? Yeah, I believe there's prejudice against American coaches in the Premier League,” said Marsch. “But in the end, somebody has to try to change that and I don't know if that'll be me.”