New York Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch skipped a couple of days of training in the build-up to his team's match against Real Salt Lake to join an unspecified "UEFA course" in Europe. On his return to RBNY training, Marsch told Seeing Red Daily's Mark Fishkin he'd enjoyed the experience ("they welcomed me with open arms") and he expected to be making regular trips ("once every other month") during the 18-month course.
He didn't say which training course he's doing, but he did mention he'd met Scotland head coach Gordon Strachan during his trip. As it happens, the Scottish FA's 2017/18 UEFA Pro Licence class met Gordon Strachan last week - and, as it happens, Jesse Marsch appears fleetingly in the latest video on the activities of that class.
Marsch told SRD there were "not a lot of head coaches" on his course, and that he thought he was the only (and first) MLS head coach to have enrolled in the course.
There aren't many head coaches on the course because the UEFA Pro Licence is the qualification required to be a head coach in the top flight of a European league, and to be a head coach of a team involved in the UEFA Champions League or Europa League. So it's a qualification that tends to be pursued by coaches with that ambition. Bob Bradley and Brad Friedel are among the few - perhaps are the only - Americans to have secured UEFA's top coaching qualification.
Officially, Marsch has framed his quest for a UEFA qualification as simply part of his continuing effort to better himself and expand his knowledge of his chosen profession. As he told NewYorkRedBulls.com:
I always want to better myself in terms of thinking about the game, and this is an excellent chance to see some of the philosophies being taught in Europe. I want to continually improve myself as a coach and pick up lessons or a bit of knowledge that I can bring back and implement.
Continuing education is an admirable activity for anyone in any profession, and Marsch's commitment to it has loaded up his schedule for the foreseeable future. In addition to his duties as RBNY's head coach and his UEFA classes, he is enrolled in US Soccer's Pro Course, which is currently the top-level of the American licensing system for soccer coaching.
So Jesse Marsch has a busy year ahead. But by around mid-2018 he will be perhaps unique in holding the top coaching qualifications offered by US Soccer and UEFA. Coincidentally, he will also be qualified to be the head coach of a team like RB Salzburg.
That was the position he was rumored to have accepted during RBNY's tumultuous off-season. The rumor made little sense at the time because Salzburg didn't need a head coach and Marsch wasn't obviously qualified for the role. Another coincidence: the summer of 2018 is when Oscar Garcia's current contract as head coach of RB Salzburg will expire.