Los Angeles, Ca. – Perhaps the oddest moment of this year’s MLS SuperDraft occurred before the clock had even begun ticking down on Minnesota United when New York Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch addressed a handful of very interested reporters in the SuperDraft interview room.
“Since the New Year Year I haven’t been in Salzburg,” Marsch began. “I have been in Portugal with Leipzig, so there’s been no contact with Salzburg.” Marsch’s itinerary was of interest because it had been reported that the New York Red Bulls coach would be leaving the MLS club to assume the same post at Red Bull Salzburg.
Marsch stated plainly, “I’m the New York Red Bulls coach” an assertion he repeated when asked if he had received an offer from the Red Bulls home office.
“No,” Marsch said, “I’m the New York Red Bulls coach. I’ve never, you know this whole thing that came out, I can’t figure out how to place it but nothing’s ever changed, other than now facilitating our relationship with our clubs over there.” But Marsch said firmly, “I’m the New York Red Bulls coach.”
Speculation over Marsch’s status may have begun when he didn’t show up as expected for the MLS Combine which was held in Los Angeles in the days leading up to the SuperDraft. The combine is an annual stop for MLS coaches and executives as they take a final, up close and personal look at players available for selection at the draft.
Marsch explained his absence, as “a tactical decision,” praising his staff as the “best in Major League Soccer.” Marsch continued, saying that he trusted his staff to handle the combine and that “we felt that as a network it was most important for me to spend some time in Leipzig and continue to work with them and make sure that we integrate all of our clubs together in the right way.”
None of this does anything to clear up the deepening mystery surrounding the absence of Ali Curtis, the man who fired a popular and successful coach in Mike Petke, in order to hire Marsch just two seasons ago.
Curtis, whose job security has been called into question in recent days, suddenly departed Los Angeles on Thursday, canceling an event at the NSCAA Convention that houses the SuperDraft without explanation.
To the surprise of absolutely no one Marsch chose not to answer a question on Curtis’ status but given the success that the Red Bulls have enjoyed under Curtis and Marsch, it is difficult to imagine a benign explanation for the seeming banishment of the club’s Sporting Director from the draft.