The New York Red Bulls off-season may be quiet so far, from the perspective of fans eager to see how the team will restock its threadbare roster before MLS 2017 kicks off, but that is not to say the club's staff have not been busy.
Currently, for example, sporting director Ali Curtis and most of the coaching team are in LA for the MLS Combine, in advance of the SuperDraft. Most but not all of the coaching team: mlssoccer.com's Sam Stejskal brings the news that RBNY head coach Jesse Marsch is not at the Combine, nor are the Red Bulls willing to say whether he will be back in time for the draft.
While his colleagues ponder what to do with RBNY's draft picks, Marsch in reportedly "in Europe meeting with Red Bull executives".
The New York iteration of Red Bull's global soccer project started an accelerated process of integration with the rest of the RB soccer family back in 2015. While there had been incremental steps toward a greater synergy with RBs Leipzig, Salzburg, and Brasil prior to that, the 2015 season saw a giant leap forward - with Marsch appointed to implement the tactical philosophy that now clearly identifies RB soccer globally. At Once A Metro, we call it RalfBall - because the entire RB soccer system is modeled on the ideas of RB Leipzig sporting director Ralf Rangnick.
For reasons yet to be made clear, Marsch has used this off-season to take a deep dive into RalfBall. He was in Leipzig with his coaching team in November. He was there (still? again? solo?) in December. And now he's skipped out on the annual MLS draft jamboree to meet with "Red Bull executives".
Absent any knowledge of who or where those executives might be, it's hard to guess what Marsch's purpose might be on this occasion. RB Leipzig is currently warm-weather training in Portugal. RB Salzburg just welcomed players back for fitness testing and will head for its winter-break run in the sun in Dubai later in January. A spokesperson for RBNY told mlssoccer.com that the winter break in Europe "is a good chance to meet with other staffs" - which is surely true, but the staffs of Red Bull's European teams are back at work.
Whatever Jesse's reason for his latest journey to the heart of the RalfBall soccer project, we'll surely find out soon enough. Either because he will eventually return to perhaps explain why he wanted to spend quite so much time in Europe this off-season, or Papa Red Bull's latest organizational initiatives will make clear why the head coach of RBNY is skipping the MLS Combine this year.