By Michael Lewis
If there is anything that we have learned about soccer over the years, whatever is happening today, probably has occurred somewhere else in the world at some time.
Heck, there are hundreds, if not thousands of games going on at the same time.
Take, for example, Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch pursuing his UEFA Coaching License in Poland this week prior to Saturday’s Hudson River Derby match against New York City FC at Red Bull Arena.
Now, this wasn’t the first time a professional coach has done that during a season in the United States.
Frank Pike accomplished the feat when he was directing the old Rochester Lancers in the American Soccer League way back in 1969.
In June of that year, he left the team to earn his English Football Association full badge, leaving goalkeeper Dick Howard and general manager Charlie Schiano to run the team. While in his native England, the Lancers played back-to-back draws, giving them five in their seven opening matches that season. They had a 2-0-5 record at the time.
(Interesting side note: the first tie during Pike’s absence, a scoreless deadlock at home came June 1 against the Philadelphia Spartans, who were coached by Walter Bahr. Yes, the same Walter Bahr who played in that 1950 World Cup upset of England and who was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame years later).
Back in those days, playing a draw at home wasn’t as devastating as today because wins were worth only two points, but Schiano felt Pike wasn’t up to the task. So, the team sacked Pike and replaced him with 28-year-old Jimmy Koerner, who was the team’s public relations director at the time and who had coached high school and college soccer.
The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle’s headline on the main sports page:
Lancers Boot Pike Down the Road
“We have the best personnel in the league — player for player — and should now by leading this [Northern] division by five points,” Schiano told the Democrat & Chronicle at the time. “We feel that a constructive change was in order.
“Sunday’s tie against New York was the determining factor in Pike’s dismissal. The Lancers demonstrated a need for a unifying factor and coach pike did not seem to be able to bring together the various international players who comprise the Lancer contingent.”
Pike, incidentally, went on to coach the Canadian national team from 1971-73. He passed away at the age of 80 in 2010.
I doubt if Marsch will suffer a similar fate as Pike, but I certainly would not be surprised if he leaves the team sooner than later.
In January, it was reported he was going to take over as Red Bull Salzburg coach with New York assistant coach Chris Armas running the Red Bulls show.
For whatever reason, it never came to fruition.
With a UEFA coaching badge in hand, that could very well be Marsch’s pathway to the Salzburg job or any other job in Europe, for that matter.