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Jesse Marsch preaches patience as he faces difficult task of replacing a Red Bulls fan favorite

Jesse Marsch Montreal Impact 35

Photo by Eric Bolte/US Presswire
 

By FRANCO PANIZO

LAUDERHILL, Fla. — It has been a whirlwind first few days for Jesse Marsch, and things do not figure to slow down any time soon for the new New York Red Bulls head coach. Not when there is so much to be done, including winning over a fanbase that is foaming at the mouth over the firing of previous manager Mike Petke.

Marsch was surprisingly appointed as Red Bulls head coach last week, a day after the popular Petke was dismissed from that role. Since then, much of the public conversation has been about the controversial decision made by Ali Curtis, the club’s new sporting director, and whether Marsch has what it takes to improve New York after two years away from coaching.

The 41-year-old Marsch tried to quell fears about the latter during his introductory conference call last week, but his plan and vision took a backseat to questions about Curtis’ rationale for getting rid of Petke. Even so, Marsch is no less eager to impress irate Red Bulls supporters who he believes share some of his qualities.

“For me, I get it,” Marsch told SBI on Sunday during Day 2 of the MLS Combine. “Mike was a really popular guy and he did a good job while he was here, and there’s not one part of me that’s now looking to change everything 180 degrees. I get how a club gets attached to a big player and a guy who became a coach. There’s no issue there, and I think it’s great that these fans have such passion for our team.

“Frankly, that’s kind of how I am as a person and I think my passion and how I translate my passion into what this is and into our team will resonate a lot with our fans. Ultimately, it’ll take some time for them to get to know me and it’ll take time for me to get to know them, but I expect that we’ll move this thing along and in a few years from now we’ll talk about what a great relationship that I have with the supporters’ groups.

“It’s going to take some time and even some of them have told me to be patient with them and their emotion and I’m okay with that.”

Marsch is not oblivious to all the chatter that has gone on during the past week, but he has also admittedly not had much time to pay close attention to it. He’s been thrown right into the thick of things, and is currently focused on scouting at the MLS Combine, gearing up for the MLS SuperDraft, bolstering the Red Bulls roster, naming his coaching staff, preparing for the fast-approaching season, and the list goes on and on.

Improving the squad over the coming weeks is especially important. The Red Bulls fell a goal shy of reaching the MLS Cup final last season, but have since lost key starters in Thierry Henry (retired) and Jamison Olave (traded). Throw in the fact that Tim Cahill’s future has yet to be sorted out, and Marsch has plenty of positions to consider addressing.

Marsch would not comment on reports linking his club with the Sacha Kljestan and Jozy Altidore, but is planning to make some additions in the coming weeks. Marsch wants to bring on players who will not only contribute in the short- and mid-term, but also over the long haul. It’s part of his plan as New York head coach, after all.

“It’s a time crunch, but certainly we’re trying to use all the resources available to us to try and enhance the player pool in the right way,” said Marsch. “We’re looking around the league for different acquisitions, we’re obviously paying a lot of attention to the combine being down here, and internationally we’ve got our eyes on players and trying to evaluate their situations.

“They are what they’re about, doing the homework and now reaching out in ways that make any investment that we make not just a quick-trigger investment but one that we think we’ve vetted even though we only have a little bit of time. That’s why the work has been so heavy, but all good.”

For Marsch, leading the Red Bulls is both a major challenge and a welcomed opportunity. The former midfielder spent the last two years out of coaching after being relieved of his duties as the Montreal Impact head coach following their inaugural season in MLS in 2012.

Marsch was widely deemed to have done a respectable job with the expansion team that year, but a difference in philosophies between he and the Impact’s management led to his departure, much in the same manner that Petke was let go last week.

While it was certainly trying to be away from the game, Marsch always kept within an arm’s reach. He was occasionally seen throughout those two years at Red Bulls games as a spectator in the stands, and followed the rest of MLS closely to the point that he became an analyst during late 2014.

Those experiences out of professional soccer may not have been what Marsch had envisioned when he initially signed up to begin coaching, but he sees them now as positives to draw from.

“I think it’s hardened me in a good way,” said Marsch of how things ended with the Impact. “I think I understand now that sort of shutting down the noise is important, and focusing in on what you know is important for your group, for your team, for your club and now making sure that energy that you put into every day goes into the types of resources that you want it to instead of all the other things. I’m thankful for my experience in Montreal. I think I left there in a good way where I’m proud of the work that was done there, and now I’m only looking forward.

“I know what a big challenge this is, I know this club has had success, but it’s never gotten to the ultimate plateau. But that’s my goal: to take this team to a championship, and this is the first club that I’ve been around in the last 10-15 years where I feel like the opportunity is right and talking about winning a championship, doesn’t get you the championship, but it’s not out of the realm of possibilities here. I really think we can take this thing to new levels.”

Marsch’s coaching resume may not be all that decorated, but he has been molded by several of the more accomplished American coaches. He was influenced originally and largely by Bob Bradley, who Marsch played for at Princeton University, the Chicago Fire and Chivas USA before coaching under him with the U.S. Men’s National Team.

Then, there is Bruce Arena, who Marsch says he’s maintained a really strong friendship with over the past 15-20 years. There are also the likes of Peter Nowak, Chris Armas, Lubos Kubik, Preki and Claudio Suarez. Each has played a role in making Marsch the coach that he is.

“I’ve stolen a lot of little things from each one of them and made it into my own little package that I think it’s true to me,” said Marsch.

Now, Marsch will try to take all those lessons learned and apply it to a Red Bulls franchise that is reeling from an abrupt head coaching change but also crying for someone to finally lead it to the promiseland of an MLS Cup title.

“There’s so much here,” said Marsch. “One of the goals I think is to now use all the resources in a way where we only make our way stronger. There’s going to be a lot of work put into what goes into on the field, but I think with Ali and (general manager Marc de Grandpre) and myself, there’s going to be a lot of work put into what’s going on off the field as well.”

Comments

  1. screw you Jesse! you are an embarrassment to a man kind.
    A real man and a professional would NEVER agree to take this job knowing that it was occupied by someone else and especially someone else who was doing a great job here.
    Someone else who is a real MAN, a class act and whose shoes you will never fill.

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  2. Agree with all the negative Red Bulls org. statements. Petke was the man, this franchise is a laughing stock and has been for 20 years (minus the 2 Petke years where us fans had some hope).

    Smart move to can him and stab us all in the back, we’re not going to the arena this year!

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  3. I can’t see ever getting behind the new coach. It sickens me hearing him say things like, oh in a few years this will all blow over and I’ll have a great relationship with the supporters. How smug to assume he will automatically be around here for a few years, but I guess when your buddy is SD you can feel confident you’re not going anywhere as long as he’s there.

    All of the excitement and passion that has been building year after year the past several seasons now feels completely washed away. For me, the passion is gone. Only thing that can bring it back at this point is a Red Bull sale.

    Give us our club back

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  4. O K ….. so we are making excuses before the season even begins! NY has a great chance to succeed in MLS ….. but that will only happen once RedBull ceases to be the ownership of this team.

    Petke’s biggest flaw was his connection with the fans and the club. The best soccer franchises in MLS are those that “connect” with their fan base, i.e. Seattle, Portland, etc.

    RedBull neither “gets” its fan base nor connects with them. There was hope this year when we had Petke, we had success, and we had the “as long as I breathe” banner which connected to Metro history —- which of course has been shown to be complete BS.

    The most dedicated an true fans have lost all respect for the franchise and the changes which are coming will leave the club weaker and less competitive. Then history will repeat itself once again!

    RedBull Out is the new battle cry of the NY soccer fans.

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  5. Marsch said the best things he could say I guess. Its not his real personality though. As a player for Chivas he was a testy and arrogant defender. We’ll see how that goes down with everyone once it rears its ugly head.

    But I am still gut-punched by Petke being canned and the Ali idiot who’s all puffy chested about it “I own it!”. I really hope this ratcheting down of personnel quality and cheap-skate spending means Red Bull wants to sell. Maybe this is just the placeholder year before they’re kaput. I can’t see this team as Red Bull branded in 10 years. All brands fade and Red Bull isn’t Coke.

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  6. Jesse…you were offered a job that was occupied by someone at the moment, someone who was doing a great job. As a real man if you consider yourself one and as a professional all you had to do was say ” No thank you, cant accept it” when another ungentleman like prick Ali Curtis contacted you. So yeah…whether you win MLS Cup here(highly doubtful) or fail miserably…you already failed in this life time as a man and that something you cant change.

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  7. #RedBullOut

    I’ll support the PLAYERS the best I can this year. Not sure I’m proud to wear any RB gear any more though. I might just go and wear some neutral colors. I don’t think the RB will make the playoffs this year. No way.

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    • I am throwing out my Red Bull stuff. As a matter of fact I had my cap in my gym workout bag but refused to use it this weekend even though it was cold out. I’m done with this ownership group.

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    • get yourself some Metro gear. do a search for NY 1996 spreadshirt and you’ll find some cool custom Metro designs. Including a nice Petke shirt!

      If I go to the arena at all next season it will be wearing Metro only gear (and my own booze)

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  8. Wow you guys are right on the $ From my perspective RB is in a total mess and as Mansters says Petke EARNED our respect. Marsh a bag stabber so . not so much.. Petke has tons more experience than Marsh has and AFTER the Henry/Cahill era I believe we would have all sat back with patience and let Petke remold the team ?,Now all bets are off, we have this insipid idiot Ali on board with 0 experience ( remember he was the Austrian H.O THIRD choice after Roxbury left) so they get what they pay for an idiot with analytical focus not real” in the trenches playing power” so no at the end of the day we should all sit back and give Ali about as much respect as he gave Petke and call for his head to roll just as soon ..? My wish is for a real fan /owner base to take ownership of this team not the phonies in charge now?.
    Soccer Blood

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  9. This is not about Jesse, it’s about Petke. Marsch should just relinquish his job and Curtis should be fired. Petke then should be reinstated and Marach made USL Pro coach. Until then, no money is going to NYRB. Not one cent.

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    • You make a good point. When Fraser left, couldn’t Marsch have come in as Petke’s new assistant? Why was it necessary to cut ties?

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  10. My opinion is that we don’t know all that went down with regard to Petke, but Curtis admitted that he had begun conversations with Marsch only after 2 days on the job. In other words, he had decided to fire Petke before his first day in the sporting director’s office. That is a managerial faux pas and show that Curtis doesn’t have the deft touch to run this team. He is tone deaf to something as obvious as the strong positive feelings Petke engendered in the fans base. And…he acted in a completely reactionary fashion to the negative PR storm that came out of that decision. That would be the “town hall meeting”.

    Marsch broke a major unwritten North American sports rule by being publicly associated with a job before it was vacant. He will be thought of as a backstabber and someone who can’t be trusted.

    And that is what this is all about…Curtis made a decision that required a great deal of built-up trust and it is blowing up in his face because he had no build-up of good will.

    Marsch broke the trust he’s supposed to have within the coaching fraternity.

    As far as I am concerned, and I hope others join me, I will not support this team with attendance or merchandise sales until both of these men are gone from the organization. I won’t follow the plastic franchise based in the baseball park, but I can at least follow the Cosmos…

    Send a message that even winning wouldn’t cure what you’ve done…we want you gone, and I hope the billboard on Rt. 280 indicates that.

    Finally, Curtis uses analytics…how many titles did that win Billy Beane in Oakland??? That’s right, none. The A’s got to the playoffs and crashed out quickly…which is what we should expect.

    In other words, not as good as the club legend you just fired.

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    • Beane didn’t win any but the Red Sox took integrated his (or rather Bill James’s) approach and won twice (they also had a huge payroll, which matters a lot). Since then, every team in MLB has adopted player analytics, and we’ve discredited many myths about player value and come to accept that certain statistics mean more than others.

      But that’s baseball, naturally a game of numbers. And what Beane did was, at the time, pretty much under the radar, so the A’s did have an edge. Curtis and Marsch seem to have just read Soccernomics and anointed themselves experts on the future of the game. We should not buy into that for one minute. Firstly, to do so at the cost of the human side of the club is idiotic and extremely arrogant. Secondly, Soccernomics – if that’s their reference and I assume it is – makes something very clear which is that in soccer, analytics work only over time, many years. In any given year, they could not use numbers to prove any significant trend. But over decades they could. For example, transfer fees don’t correlate to winning, but player salaries do – if measured over the course of 10 years.

      So in a league with a very low salary cap that makes 0 sense. So they are going to build a team with academy and college players? Right, good luck and don’t hold your breath. And then, we hear they are both on a one year contract, as stipulated by a marketing group thousands of miles away. Does anyone know if the owner of this team has been to a game?

      People are saying this is just about Petke. For me, above all, this overly academic project has real world failure written all over it.

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  11. Wow, as a DCU fan I can only imagine how you guys feel… what if Ben Olsen was fired right now? Can’t say I’m not laughing at the Red Bulls right now, but I do feel for the fans.

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  12. Stop here if you’ve seen/heard this all before. The fundamental lack of ownership visibility, transparency, and frankly an uncanny ability for RB GMBH to give 2 F’s about this team while it continually shoots itself in the foot finally seems to be inspiring the fan base to open their eyes. Let’s see if anything comes of it.

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  13. My mind is clearer now than it was last week, so I’ll try to take a rational/calm path going forward:
    (1) Separate the ownership issue from the issues surrounding Curtis and (especially) Marsch. He can’t be blamed for RB’s inattention and dysfunction.
    (2) Recognize that Marsch has more experiance going in than Petke did, and that for all his passion and commitment, Petke had some shortcomings, some of which may have been hidden by the presence of Henry (as a player and as a de facto assistant coach). Maybe, after all is said and done, Marsch has what it takes to lead a team that is definitely in transition.
    (3) Focus on results, and be patient, but not stupid. Don’t let a slow start lead to rage. But keep Curtis and Marsch under the same miccroscope that is used for every GM and coach: what’s your record, and is the team getting better?

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    • Fair approach. At the same time, ‘fan’ is for fanatic, which implies irrationality. I believe they deserve to feel some emotional fan pressure for a while.

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    • How does Marsch have more experience than Petke? Marsch coached one season and had a losing record. Petke coached two, had the best record in the league in one, and made semifinals in the other. Curtis has no leadership experience at all.

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      • johnny 99 and Vic: I said he has more experience than Petke had when he started, which was zero. I know it’s a step back in terms of head coaching experience right now. My point was that Petke did pretty well in his first year as a complete newbie, while Marsch at least has a year of experience (plus however much you want to give him for work as an assistant to Bradley with the MNT). He’s still quite new to the coaching ranks, though, which is why I also recommended that we give him some time, but not too much time.

      • There is no objective reason to think that Marsch will be a better head coach than Petke. That’s one of the frustrating things here, Ali Curtis has not (because he cannot) articulated a good reason why he made the change. All he has said is that Marsch is more aligned with the vision of the club, whatever that means.

        I don’t think anyone is arguing that Marsch can’t be a good MLS coach; most people recognize that he did a decent job in his one year in Mtl. and didn’t deserve to be fired.

        But while Marsch may turn out to be good MLS coach, we already know that Petke is a good MLS coach, he’s got the track record that Marsch doesn’t have.

        Yeah, sure, we’ll give Marsch a chance. It’s either that or walk away from the team (which some people are doing).

      • The only sensible reason that Curtis could have had was that he thought Petke had hit his ceiling and that Marsch had a bigger up-side, especially with a squad that had lost an all-time great and its best defender. Not saying he’s right, but that’s the only reason I can think of.

  14. I’m sorry to Jesse Marsch but I was all ready to be patient as Petke went through a rebuilding year in this post Henry era. I would have forgiven Petke for not making the playoffs this year as he preached for patients. Yet, by firing Petke, Curtis and Marsch have said we can do better. This team better make the playoffs easily. No barely making it by clinching the 5th spot on the last day of the year.

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  15. I wonder what term contracts Curtis and Marsh have. If they are one year deals I would be very worried. If that is the case,….it smacks of a club positioning for a sale.

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    • +1 I agree. But it looks like Red Bulls are serious about not selling. Jason Ader has made it clear to them several times that he’s willing to pay the 250 Million but they still won’t sell… Unless Red Bulls want 300 Million +, I’m not sure why they would turn that down if they were looking to sell.

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      • Personally, I would love for Ader to buy the team. I feel that way so much that I would almost consider rooting for the team to fail off the field completely this year so that Red Bull has to lower their price for the club.

    • Wouldn’t you want RB to sell? Presumably, a new owner that spends $300m to buy the team is going to be committed to spending some cash to put a good team out on the field, which is more than RB appear to be willing to do at the moment. In addition, the team wouldn’t be called “Red Bulls” any more, which repels a lot of people. Plus, it’s hard to imagine a future ownership group could be worse at connecting with fans than RB has been.

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  16. I see a lot of people say it’s not Marsch’s fault and he should not be held accountable. Well he knowingly interviewed for a position when that position was already occupied. That’s a major faux pas in a lot of other sports in this country. Why is not the same here?

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    • You can’t be serious….. Dude I don’t agree with what went down but this whole “he knowingly interviewed for a position when that position was already occupied”??? Seriously? Like I COULD respond about how this sounds but I think you may need a minute to just figure out what you just said…

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    • This happens all the time in other sports. Look at Joe Maddon. Basically, just walked away from Tampa when there weren’t any MLB managerial openings and said he wanted to manage in 2015. In other words, “fire your manager and hire me.” And the Cubs did.

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  17. I really just don’t have any patience after this move. Making this coaching change just shows that Ali Curtis knows nothing about the Red Bulls and their fan base. We have had patience for years. We finally had a coach who was winning and who care about the organization and the fans. Listen, Petke had his flaws but he is a young coach who with time would get better. We won’t know how Petke would have done with the rebuild but he had EARNED patience from us. I’ve been a season ticket holder and a fan for many years. I think this year I will wait it out and hopefully these guys will be gone. Unfortunately I only have money hard earned money to show my displeasure with the club and their decisions. I’ll be supporting this club forever but for now I will send whatever message I can to them.

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    • Hitting Red Bulls in their pockets is where it hurts the most… It’s the only way to truly get the attention of whoever it is that isn’t paying attention up in Red Bulls Kingdom Lair.

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  18. I can’t help but feel bad for Marsch. A lot of fans are upset what happened, and rightfully so, but it’s not like Marsch was going to turn down an opportunity to coach the team. I hope fans aren’t hard on Marsch but hold Ali Curti’s feet to the fire.

    If the Red Bulls don’t have a better run, or at least the same exact run, fans will be calling for both of their heads + demand Petke back as the head coach. I mean after-all, Ali Curtis contract is only for 1 year; despite what he said on Extra Time Radio.

    It shall be an interesting year for the Red Bulls… #MissingPetke

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    • I agree Ali Curtis is the real evil culprit here. I also blame the higher ups in Red Bull for picking Ali Curtis and allowing him so much power.

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      • You don’t think Curtis was simply told to fire Petke? I know he said otherwise, but he had to say that.

      • It was all Ali Curtis’s decision. Red Bull extended Petke’s contract for another year, now they’re stuck paying Petke another year.

    • Marsch knew he was being brought in to replace a popular successful coach. If he didn’t know that, he has no business running this team. He willingly stepped into this mess, so I have little sympathy for him.

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