The New York Red Bulls made their off-season a little more eventful by allowing the rise of a rumor that, at one point, had grown to describe a massive overhaul of the club’s technical staff (Jesse Marsch off to coach RB Salzburg; Chris Armas to take Marsch’s spot; Denis Hamlett to take over Ali Curtis’s position; Curtis to parts unknown) as well as the abrupt dismissal of a coach (Salzburg’s Oscar Garcia) who had reportedly been deemed “untransferable” (Malaga’s explanation for why it didn’t get the man it wanted to be its new manager). And then the rumor receded more quickly even than it had emerged.
It all started on Monday, January 9, when Sam Stejskal reported for mlssoccer.com that RBNY head coach Jesse Marsch was not at the MLS Combine, and that his team would not (or could not) say when he’d be back. All RBNY would say was that its coach was in Europe for a meeting with Red Bull executives.
A curious state of affairs that Stejskal duly investigated. On January 11, he reported “multiple sources” advising Marsch was in Salzburg with a view to moving to Papa Red Bull’s Austrian club. Goal.com’s Ives Galarcep had the same information, plus the news that RBNY had decided to throw the keys to the first team to assistant coaches Chris Armas and Denis Hamlett: Armas would take over Marsch’s duties as head coach; Hamlett would take Ali Curtis’s job as sporting director.
Within hours of publishing their stories, both reporters were gently walking them back. Galarcep advised Hamlett would merely become RBNY Technical Director, and Curtis was keeping his job. Stejskal noted the deal for Marsch to move to Salzburg “isn’t done yet” and the coach might simply come back to the job everyone assumed he would be doing in 2017 before a mysterious trip to Europe provided grounds for thinking otherwise.
Finally, on Thursday, January 12, the floodgates opened and the story was washed away by a deluge of suddenly free-flowing, categorical denials. Kristian Dyer reported for Metro (no relation) that Marsch was on a plane to LA to join his team for the MLS SuperDraft and a league source advised the coach would be guiding RBNY in 2017. Empire of Soccer’s Jack Hazzard got RB Salzburg to weigh in and dismiss any suggestion Oscar Garcia was on the outs. Seeing Red’s Mark Fishkin produced a message to a fan from Jesse Marsch himself:
#RBNY fan reaches out directly to Marsch to thank him for his time with the club. Here's Marsch's response. pic.twitter.com/mX61m6sxBF— Mark Fishkin (@MarkFishkin) January 12, 2017
And the New York Red Bulls suddenly found a voice on the subject, putting out a statement that could have saved Stejskal and Galarcep a lot of time if they’d made it on Monday when this whole affair started with the observation Marsch wasn’t at the Combine.
New York Red Bulls club statement: pic.twitter.com/HzCEeTwvJR— New York Red Bulls (@NewYorkRedBulls) January 12, 2017
“Jesse will remain at the helm in 2017”: all you had to say, RBNY. Could have spared us all three days of gradually escalating speculation and anxiety.
As we were reminded by Big Apple Soccer during the height of the Jesse-is-leaving consternation, Marsch is on the record with his desire to experience leading a team in Europe. If his career continues the way he’d like it to, fair to assume he’ll get and take the opportunity one day.
But not today. He has a job half-done to complete at RBNY. There is a CONCACAF Champions League campaign to see through, and the club’s perennial hunt for that elusive first MLS Cup to continue. And before all that, there is a roster to build for 2017, starting with a few draft picks on January 13.
Welcome back, Jesse. Time to get to work.