Harrison, N.J. – New York Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch went there.
Speaking to the assembled press at New York Red Bulls Media Day on Tuesday afternoon, GotSoccer asked the fourth year supremo, if, in light of the USMNT’s World Cup failure, MLS coaches have a responsibility to give time to young American players?
It is a question that has generally been dismissed out of hand by the notion that coaches in any league must play the players that give their team the best chance of winning while also giving the coach the best odds of keeping his job.
But Marsch took a different tack. Marsch went there.
“Yes, in the current U.S. (soccer) climate I think that developing young American talent is more vital than ever,” the Red Bulls coach began. “Now, that being said, there’s countless people in this country, countless people,” Marsch went on, “that are putting their best foot forward in this moment, so to just talk about Red Bull would be totally unfair because there’s so many at the grassroots level, even within our club with our training programs, there are so many people that are committed to youth development.”
For Marsh the next step, getting those young American players on the pitch is simple, “it requires professional coaches who are willing and ready to play young players.”
“Every club in the league says they’re about youth development, every one,’ Marsch noted, “but I could show you reasons why most of them are not and I think what we’re doing here at Red Bull, yes, is very important to football in our country. It’s what we believe in, it’s who we are, it’s what benefits us in terms of our style of play. And listen, we also have a big benefit because we have a great academy.”
“But nonetheless,” Marsch underlined, “it is really important right now that we have coaches in MLS who are willing to play young players.”
So, why don’t more teams follow the Red Bulls lead and play their American youngsters? Marsch sees two possible culprits, an influx of foreign coaches into MLS and Targeted Allocation Money, or TAM.
Not that he is turning his nose up at the extra funding that TAM allows but Marsch sees some potential problems with the program.
“Ultimately,” the Red Bulls boss concedes, “each coach has to decide what their identity is but I think even as a league, when you look at TAM initiative versus youth development initiatives, we all love TAM money, it helps put better players into our team but it could potentially threaten youth development and we need to find a way to incentivize academies, homegrown players, youth development, selling of young players, whatever it may be so that teams are continually committed to actually playing young players. Not just hoping that they’ll play young players and have good academies but committed to doing it because they could be rewarded.”
As for the foreign coaches, Marsch had this to say. “One of the concerns with more foreign coaches is, are their motivations as tied to youth development from an American standpoint as maybe some of the American coaches?”
Later in the press conference, another reporter asked Marsch to clarify his remarks on foreign coaches and he began somewhat optimistically, saying “I don’t want this to be taken as a massive talking point,” before continuing. “I think it’s great that we have some good foreign coaches in our league, they bring something new, but I think it’s important for everyone to understand. Given the climate of where we are with U.S Soccer that developing the American player is important, is massively important and if we have coaches who don’t value that, then we’re going to now jeopardize the future of where we are with U.S.soccer.”
“This is a responsibility, it’s a responsibility as a professional coach to commit yourself to the young American players, a responsibility” Marsh emphasized, “that we all should have, so I just want to make that very clear.”
Yes, Jesse Marsch went there.