Harrison, N.J. – “I’m not going to answer any questions about Ali or Dax,” Jesse Marsch said not making for a very promising start to New York Red Bulls Media Day on Monday.
The Red Bulls coach also dismissed the rumor that he would trade in life at the New York branch of Red Bulls soccer/football for the home office in Salzburg that kicked off the club’s controversial offseason when it became a major talking point at the MLS SuperDraft in January.
Marsch had previously admitted that he was a bit unhappy with how the trade of team captain Dax McCarty was handled but while Media Day might have been a good opportunity for Marsch to share his first public thoughts on Curtis’ exit, Marsh maintained his silence on the the departure of the man who put his own neck on the line with his first move in charge of the Red Bulls when he fired a popular coach in Mike Petke in order to hire Marsch.
On other topics, however, Marsch was more his usual forthright self.
On Wednesday night’s CONCACAF Champions League home game against the Vancouver Whitecaps:
“It’s a little bit of a strange moment that we are in right now because we have such a big match coming up and in many ways, we don’t feel totally prepared.” Still, the coach expects his team to “go out on Wednesday night and give everything they have.”
On the team’s playing style:
For the second year running Marsch plans to juke the team’s playing style by giving Bradley Wright-Phillips some help at the top of the team’s attack, whether that help comes from new captain Sacha Kljestan or from Gonzalo Veron.
Veron was limited by a hamstring injury for much of 2016 but Marsch likes what he has seen of the Argentine in pre-season and said, “yes, we are moving a little bit to a two-forward system.”
On freshening the squad:
“Us watching our USL team, we were really impressed with that group and we’re really excited about a lot of those players.” Speaking of the USL Champion Red Bulls II Marsh sounded ready to play the kids. “I think that youthful fearlessness that team displayed and that those young players have, we need to incorporate that more into the team that we are now.”
On replacing Dax McCarty on the field:
“Sean Davis will emerge as a natural fit for playing in there with Felipe. He’s had a fantastic pre-season and he’s ready for some big challenges.” “And then the other guy is Tyler,” Marsch added. Tyler Adams was injured in the dismal U.S U20’s loss to Panama on Saturday but Marsch hopes the 18-year-old will be back shortly. “I think that both of those two are poised for huge seasons.”
And as a leader:
“It almost wasn’t a choice at all,” Marsch said on naming Sacha Kljestan as McCarty’s successor as captain.” “It was,” Marsch said, “a natural fit.” The coach cited veterans Luis Robles and Bradley Wright-Phillips as Kljestan’s natural lieutenants adding, “I think there is more room for young guys to blossom into leadership roles too.”
On getting over the playoff “hump”:
Marsch mentioned the team’s young players and tactics but emphasized the little things. “I want to focus on the minutiae of the details of what make us good.”
On how good this team is:
“We feel by the end of all of this the potential to have our best roster, our most well-rounded team, and the most weapons within our arsenal could be at the highest that it’s been since I’ve been here and that’s saying something.”
Saying something, indeed. Just not about Ali or Dax.