Jesse Marsch could be on his way out from New York as a head coach in MLS, something that could well up-end the most successful three-year run in RBNY franchise history. But the right hire could sustain the framework built up over the past few seasons and continue this run of solid form for the organization.
Reports have persisted for weeks that Marsch is headed to Red Bull Leipzig in Germany’s Bundesliga, a move that certainly would coincide with his pursuit of a UEFA license and studying German.
Since all Red Bull organizations essentially play a similar style, the assimilation to a top European league by an American coach would be made easier for Marsch. Now that Leipzig hired a head coach on Thursday, Marsch could still be a candidate to join the coaching staff and gain some experience.
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Or he might move to another team in Europe, a door opened up by his mentor Bob Bradley who managed in Norway, France and England before returning to his MLS roots. And he's a candidate for the United States national team position. So while he won't manage Leipzig he could still head overseas or to another opportunity.
But were Marsch to go – and there may be nothing to the rumors - then RBNY would need to replace one of the top coaches in all of MLS. A look at five candidates to consider for the role, as ranked by Metro New York:
5. Jason Kreis – Yes, Kreis flamed out at his previous stops in New York City FC and Orlando City but those are two notoriously horrible ownership groups. There is no denying that Kreis had a tremendous run with Real Salt Lake and was even mentioned as a future head coach of the United States national team.
He doesn’t necessarily have a track record of playing young players but in a system and mentality such as that in New York, he’d have to be willing to adjust. A young, exciting American coach who could find patience, support and the right infrastructure with RBNY. He did well at Salt Lake and with a more stable ownership group, could thrive here.
4. John Wolyniec – The head of the New York Red Bulls II in the USL, Wolyniec is a former player who led the ‘Baby Bulls’ to the USL title two years ago. He has a long history with this club and has helped develop young players such as Tyler Adams, Sean Davis, Aaron Long and Florian Valot among others into regular contributors with the senior team.
This would be a big step up for ‘Woly’ but he’s proven he can coach at this level. He’s worth a look. If he doesn’t get the job, don’t be surprised if an ambitious USL side could hire him at some point in the future.
3. Alan Koch – The FC Cincinnati head coach was knocked out of last year’s US Open Cup in extra time by the Red Bulls but his club made an impression in that tournament, beating several MLS sides to advance to the semifinals. A young and energetic head coach, this would be a leap for Koch who has never been in charge of a first division side.
He has playing experience in South Africa and Germany so that is a plus. He’s a darkhorse here but sources say that Koch has his admirers within the Red Bull organization.
2. Chris Armas – When rumors about Marsch leaving for Red Bull Salzburg surfaced two years ago, it was reported that Armas would take over. An assistant under Marsch since 2015, Armas was a perennial All-Star in MLS and a former United States international. Few in the league are as decorated as this midfielder.
He knows the system and is well-liked by the players. He has, however, never been a head coach at this level other than spot duty when Marsch has been suspended by the league.
Armas has his own way about him, something that might be a breath of fresh air to rejuvenate the team.
1. Carl Robinson – People tend to forget that Robinson spent two years as a player, retiring with the Red Bulls. He’s played for this team, knows the organization and was recently linked to the national team job with Wales.
Few have done more with less as Robinson has done as head coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps the past three years. On a tiny budget, Robinson has Vancouver consistently in the playoffs and the Champions League.
A former Welsh international, he would have a European pedigree that could appeal to the likes of Oliver Mintzlaff at Red Bulls Global Soccer while also having an intricate knowledge of MLS. Robinson also likes to play young talent, a mentality that would jive with RBNY.