Jesse Marsch's New York Red Bulls' press conference: just the full transcript, and nothing more. Enjoy.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) director (inaudible) Denis Hamlett assuming the role of sporting director (OFF-MIKE) who might be (OFF-MIKE)
MARSCH: Yeah, you know, he's a member of the coaching staff right now. And there's no other comment to be made on that right now. I think that, you know, in the near future there will be more clarity on the overall structure of the club, you know, and there may be some -- there's been some questions about decision-making.
And, you know, I mean, without Ali being here, there's been a lot of shared decision-making, kind of like there always has been. So in that sense, not much has changed. So that's kind of where we're at right now. And like I said, in the near future, we'll announce more on structure.
QUESTION: Can you talk about what happened with Ali and his departure?
MARSCH: No, I mean, right now, I'm not -- I'm focusing on Champions League and then our season coming ahead. So, you know, I'm not going to answer any questions about Ali or Dax. All right? Right now, I'm focusing now on the future of this team and the season upcoming.
QUESTION: Can you tell -- oh (remembers no questions about Ali or Dax, hands microphone back).
MARSCH: OK. Any questions other than that?
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) for this season?
MARSCH: That's a good question. I mean, you know, I like our team. I'll say that right now. I think that energy of preseason has been fantastic. You know, this group's been together for a good two years. There's been small additions here and there. But overall, I think there's a real sense of our identity and who we are and how we play. So I think we're continuing to try to build into that, so that we become more sophisticated tactically, mentally, and that part has been fun.
And I've always enjoyed the way that this team and these players commit to who we are and how we do things. And it's helped us be successful. It's a little bit of a strange moment that we're in right now, because we have such a big match coming up. And in many ways, we don't feel totally prepared, because the last four weeks have gone by quick. We haven't had all of our resources in terms of our player pool together for the whole time.
But in that sense, there's been a real urgency and an excitement to what's around the corner. So, you know, I expect in our teams in all ways to go out on Wednesday night and give everything they have.
QUESTION: Jesse, two questions. On the Champions League, obviously, you said it was a short period of time to prepare for it. Did you try to lobby with the league to have a longer preseason to be more prepared for the quarterfinals?
MARSCH: Well, we're limited by what the CBA says and the union says. So there's really no flexibility there. But what we've challenged our players is to put more into their off-season to make sure that when they came into preseason that they were physically more prepared and ready to go, which meant that we could accelerate some of the soccer philosophy and concepts to be ready for this match.
You know, I think for the most part, guys came in pretty fit. And, you know, and then we've just tried in the right ways to throw the minutes at them a little bit more, to handle the fitness a little bit better, and make sure that we weren't picking up any injuries. And for the most part, I think now it's gotten us to a point where we should have just about a full complement of players for Wednesday night.
They're not all totally fit and they're not all totally sharp. So I know it won't be our best match that we've ever played. The benefit we have -- and if you ask Vancouver, I think they'd say in the same boat -- and the fact that we play each other means that we're on an even playing field. And after two games, we'll see who's able to gain an edge.
QUESTION: And secondly, was it a tough choice or an easy choice when you named Sacha Kljestan captain of the club?
MARSCH: Yeah, it almost wasn't a choice at all. I mean, he had served as sort of like the vice captain for two years. And it was a natural fit. I mean, there was a discussion within the staff, but -- you know, I think it was pretty clear that this is a guy who's our key, top leader right now.
That being said, you know, all along we've said the captain is not a one-man job. It's about a community of people. And so I think that certainly the two guys that will support Sacha the most will be Luis and Brad. So I think the three of them will really take on big leadership roles, and I think there's more room for other young guys to blossom into bigger leadership roles, too. So I'm excited to see that evolve into our team as time goes on.
QUESTION: Hi, Jesse.
QUESTION: This time last year, you hinted at a season that had big plans for Veron, for him to play some forward. Since, it didn't work out. He's had some injuries. Is that the plan again this year? And why do you expect it to be more successful?
MARSCH: Yes. So, you know, the real unfortunate part about Gonzalo last year was that literally like the last play of preseason he picked up a hamstring injury that held him out for a while, and then he re-injured it when he came back. Gonzalo, again, has had, think, a really good preseason. And yeah, yes, we are moving a little bit to a two-forward system and some tactical shifts. It's even different than when we employed two strikers last year.
So we're trying to find ways to be a little bit more compact with our team tactically and see if we can control the kinds of chances and counter attacks that we give up to the opponent, and in there, also still build in a real clear sense of how we press, how we counter press, how we attack, how we be aggressive to play the way we want to play. And I think that so far, it's gone pretty well, and I think that there's already -- because we have a smart group and a group that's been here for a while and understands the basics of what we do -- I think that there's been a really good sort of digestion of what we're trying to accomplish now. And that will be a big test to try to put it out there on Wednesday night.
QUESTION: Jesse, you mentioned that Sacha is the top leader on the team. I was wondering, with him coming back from Anderlecht, from Europe, and now I guess his third season, have you seen him -- has he grown into the position of being the team leader? You know, maybe it's a bit naive to say that, because, I mean, he's an experienced veteran on your team.
MARSCH: Yeah, I mean, if you -- you know, I actually spoke with Sacha a little bit this morning. And we talked a little bit about overall how -- you know, how we're encouraging him to evolve within the group, soccer-wise, tactically, and also leadership-wise.
And I think if you ask Sacha, that he'd say that he's treated him -- you know, himself in the role he has within the team like he's already been a captain and a big leader. And I think that he'd be correct in feeling that way and in saying that.
So I don't really think it's going to take that much of an adjustment for him. I think the players already all look to him. He has such a quiet confidence and an ease to the way that he interacts with everyone around him. He makes people around him better, you know, by how he plays on the field, but also by how he treats them and how he interacts with them in their personal lives.
I mean, Sacha is a unique character, right? He doesn't need to be in the limelight; he doesn't need to be the superstar. But he is. And in that sense, I think that he carries even more clout with him every day because of the way that he easily, I think, fits within the group.
So -- and, again, I think that you could say the same things about Luis and Brad. So, you know, I've been lucky when I've been here to have the group that we have. And so it'll be -- again, it'll be fun to see those three guys, how strongly they can take over, how -- in such a big manner, how they can really take over this team.
QUESTION: Hey, this is a twofold question. You mentioned obviously you're going to a two-forward system. Is that more because of what it does for you offensively? Or is that because of what it does for you defensively?
And the second thing -- I apologize for going back to the earlier topic, but to be clear, you don't really want to discuss, obviously, what happened with Ali. Is that because it's taking away the focus of what you're trying to do now and you'll discuss it later? Or is it because you're not allowed to discuss it?
MARSCH: OK, Brian. [Editor's Note: Question was asked by the New York Post's Brian Lewis.]
We'll start with the easy one. Yeah, the -- listen, when we play with the two strikers, there are some nuances that are different. But I think even this year, you'll see when we play two strikers that Sacha at times will be the second striker, and which still will allow him to, I think, when we have the ball, to assume that number 10 role and that number 10 position.
But I think what it does is, is it puts our -- I think what it does is, more than anything, it means that our first line of pressure is a little bit more aggressive. It means that the way it connects with the players behind them means that we can be a little bit more compact. We can still achieve some of those things, whether we play with three strikers or whether you want to call it one, but we like the way that the rotations work with and without the ball.
And in general, the compactness that we're trying to create is -- we think that the evolution of our team and where we're at is that we want to still find ways to prevent giving up chances. So defensively, we want to be harder to play against. Knowing that we have a great complement of attacking players that are still very explosive in the attack, and that we're going to score goals. This is -- this is -- we've proven that this is a big part of who we are. So if we can, I think, continue to do that, but also shore up a little -- a few things defensively, then I think we set ourselves up for more successes.
Now, the other part, listen, man, I -- this has been huge talking points on the outside, right, what's going on here, what's going on there. And I'll tell you straight up: There's been no distraction within our group, within our club, and that there's great clarity, and it's just a matter of now really defining roles on the inside so that we can all enable all of us to do our jobs at the highest level. And that's what's most important right now, is not looking back or what happened, but trying to really solidify exactly who we are moving forward. And that's what we'll accomplish in a big way. I know that.
QUESTION: Do you think the new additions that you mentioned earlier will help the team to get over the hump?
MARSCH: Yeah, so there's a few things, all right? I think us watching our USL team, we were really impressed with that group and we're really excited about a lot of those players. And the way that they played in the playoffs and the way that they matured over the year and the type of team they became, I think we were all excited to try and now find a way to honor some of their development by what it would mean for our MLS team and individually how they'd be able to start to contribute.
QUESTION: Hi, Coach.
MARSCH: Hang on. I'm not done.
QUESTION: Oh, I'm sorry.
MARSCH: So, you know, it's -- and I think that youthful fearlessness that that team displayed and a lot of -- that those young players have, that we need to incorporate that more into the team that we are now. And that's not to say that a lot of our veteran and established players don't have that, but it's natural. It's natural for young guys to feel like they've got nothing to lose and they've got 10, 15 years ahead of their career and they're going to be back to this spot again and again and again, and they're going to win championship after championship. And it's natural for older guys to think this might be my last shot, we need to get it done now. And so trying to build that balance into our team I think is important for our overall mentality in our push throughout the season and at the end of the year.
And then, you know, we've all -- we're always trying to figure out ways to manage salary cap, to continue to add to the group. You know, initially, we've got Michael Murillo. We think that he's going to be a real positive in our group in the first few days we've see him here. We're hopeful to make one more attacking addition to continue to bolster even a great attacking group that we have now.
So we feel like by the end of all of this, the potential for us to have our best roster, our most well rounded team, and the most weapons within our arsenal could be at the highest it's been since I've been here, and that's saying something.
Now we're ready.
QUESTION: Hi, Coach. Good luck for this season.
MARSCH: Thank you.
QUESTION: My question is, Dax McCarty, who's going to play in his position? And why?
MARSCH: Yeah, I think, you know, Sean Davis will emerge as a natural fit for now playing in there with Felipe. I think Sean's had a great career with us already in two years. He's had a fantastic preseason. And he's ready for some big challenges.
And then the other guy is Tyler. You know, I mean, I'm sure you all saw Tyler pick up a little bit of an injury. We are hopeful that -- he's getting an MRI today. I haven't gotten the results yet. But we're hopeful that it's not of a major variety and hopefully only one or two weeks. That's the initial indication. And if that's the case, then he might not be able to play in the rest of the tournament, but he should be able to come back to us and contribute quickly when he gets back here.
And I think that both Sean and Tyler have earned in many ways -- within the team, within their development path -- the right for bigger opportunities and bigger platforms to prove themselves. So now it's my job as a coach to find ways to support them and put them in position to succeed. But I think that both of those two are poised for huge seasons, huge seasons.
QUESTION (Mark Fishkin): Hey.
MARSCH: I hear you're doing a daily...
QUESTION: Every day.
MARSCH: Look at you.
QUESTION: The Internet's on all the time.
MARSCH: I can't even handle that.
QUESTION: I think you're doing OK. Can you talk to us a little bit about what you've learned with the last two postseasons ending prematurely? Seemingly very small events going one way or another has put New York out each of the last two years.
QUESTION: So what do you take forward into 2017?
MARSCH: Yeah, that's a good question. Listen, those moments make you, you know, in life, like when you have these sort of monumental moments that -- and you can have an immediate success or failure, right, those are the moments that I think make you look internally more than any other. And I'm certainly very proud of what's been accomplished here in two years.
But that part leaves us yearning for more. And so, listen, I talked a little bit about the youth versus the established mentality and what's that about, the tactics that we're employing are a little bit about how to continue to find ways to control games at even a higher level.
You know, and I think when I look at the ways that I'm going to emphasize things moving forward is, I want to focus I think more on the minutiae of the details of what make us good and maybe expand less on the overall vision of where we want to go and who we want to be. And I think that if we can really zone in on exactly what that minutiae is, exactly what the tiniest of details are, and if we can really be good at that, that that will then lead us to positions that we can control more of what's in front of us, which will then lead to bigger successes.
So I don't know if that's like a Plato or Socrates or whatever -- would look at that and say that it's a bunch of BS, but that's where -- that's where I'm at right now with what we're trying to -- how we're trying to evolve. And I would say that, that in general, I'm always trying to think about how I can do things better, how we can do things better, and where we can go from here. I never want to -- I never want to be status quo. I never want to sit on the successes that we've had. I want to continually figure out how we can be better.
QUESTION: To go back to some of your earlier answers regarding the younger guys and the USL guys, where do you see these homegrown players fitting into the lineup? And how are you going to find playing time for all these guys that you'll have and all (OFF-MIKE)
MARSCH: Yeah, I mean, the easy part of the beginning of the season is, the more success we can have in Champions League, then the more we can rotate our roster a little bit and give some of our younger players opportunities in league matches. But, yeah, I mean, I've already talked to the team -- the last two years, or a year-and-a-half, I've been speaking a lot with the team about the concept of rotation, and even with the way we play, making sure that we have fresh legs on the field.
Now, in certain moments during the year, certain guys are establishing themselves at such a high level that you want to keep them in the rhythm and keep them going. But it is important for me to continue to find ways to give some of these younger guys bigger challenges. I think Tyler Adams, I think Derrick Etienne, you know, Justin Bilyeu, I think Brandon Allen, Ryan Meara, I mean, I could go down the list. Aaron Long. These guys had absolutely fantastic USL seasons.
And it's -- you know, not that they've grown out of that league or -- but they do need bigger challenges. And so it's going to be up to me now to continue to get the balance right with John Wolyniec about which guys need to continue to work on certain things at the USL level, but which guys need to be thrown more into the MLS level and now see how they respond and see how they can prove that they're ready for that.
So it's not a concrete answer, but I think a continual evaluation on a daily and weekly basis to make sure that we're not just zoning in on 11 players, but that we're thinking about the 30 to 40 that are in our club right now.
GORDON STEVENSON (RBNY Comms): We'll (OFF-MIKE) wrap up with Matthew.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) there were various reports that you were under consideration for the Salzburg job. Can you clarify what occurred during your time there?
MARSCH: Yeah, I mean, there's not really too much to say. Listen, as a -- I don't even -- I'll take it as flattery. I don't know if it is. I think it's just like people wanting to sensationalize certain things in the media.
I will say this. Like, being part of this club and being part of the global brand has been a real privilege. And, you know, I've learned from some really great people within the Red Bull global system and different coaches that coach the clubs, the sporting directors and some of the older mentors that are within the club have helped me in many big ways. And the support that they've given me has been incredible and allowed me to, I think, do my job to the best of my abilities.
So, you know, like there's nothing to be reported, other than when I go over there, I spend time working with guys like, you know -- obviously, there's guys like Ralf Rangnick and Helmut Gross and Wolfgang Geiger. But there's also Ralph Hasenhuttl. There's been Oscar Garcia. There's Thomas Letsch at Liefering. There's all the assistants and different coaches within the system. There's the academies that are over there.
So, you know, any of us Americans, when we get -- if you're a true footballer, right, and you love this sport, and when you get the chance to go to Europe and see the game at the highest levels, it's the biggest treat you can imagine. So, you know, I mean, and you can go through it. Jason Kreis did it with Manchester City. You know, obviously, Patrick Vieira has had some great opportunities to work with different people in that organization there, as well. You know, and so -- and even when I was with U.S. Soccer, I spent a lot of time going over and watching clubs and watching teams train and visiting with players that we have within our U.S. Soccer umbrella.
So, I mean, in all these moments, you just try to absorb and learn and grow and figure out ways to now apply it to the team that you have. Clearly here at Red Bull, we have a way. We have a way of doing things. You know, I mean, I'm probably the biggest fan of Leipzig and Salzburg that you could find. But that doesn't mean that I'm qualified to be their next coach.
QUESTION: So were there discussions about you becoming the next coach?
MARSCH: No. No. That was a long way of saying no.