Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Guest TigerBlog - Jim Barlow Talks About Bob Bradley And Jesse Marsch

TigerBlog was going to write about how Princeton alum and former head soccer coach Bob Bradley was coaching tonight in the CONCACAF Champions League final tonight, somewhat ironically against Tigres of Mexico.

On the heels of the run by another Tiger alum turned coach, Jesse Marsch, it seemed interesting to TB to see if there was any commonality between the two. To find out, he turned to Jim Barlow, the current Princeton head coach who played for Bradley at Princeton and on whose staff Marsch once coached. Here is what Jim had to say:

I am so lucky to be able to call two of the giants of World Soccer my friends, and to consider them such an integral part of the Princeton Soccer Family as they both played for and coached in our program. To see the success they have enjoyed, and continue to achieve, on both the domestic and international stages is truly inspiring.

Bob Bradley has won an MLS Cup, a Supporter’s Shield, two U.S. Open Cups, a CONCACAF Gold Cup title and three MLS Coach of the Year Awards. As the Coach of the USA National Team, he won the CONCACAF Gold Cup and was a runner-up twice, and also finished second to Brazil at the 2009 Confederations Cup after beating Spain (the best team in the world at the time) in the semis. He then advanced the USA out of their group at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. After that challenge, Bob had successful stints coaching the Egyptian National Team and professional teams in Norway and France. He also become the first American to coach in the English Premier League. Now, back in MLS after returning to coach the expansion Los Angeles Football Club in 2017, he has the team on the brink of the biggest title for North and Central America, the CONCACAF Champions League (the final is against Tigres from Mexico tonight at 10 pm EST).


Jesse’s path has been a little different. After a great playing career at Princeton, Jesse won three MLS Cups and four U.S. Open Cup titles as a player for DC United, the Chicago Fire, and Chivas USA over a 14-year career. After he retired as a player, Jesse quickly transitioned into coaching as an assistant for Bob with the U.S. National Team at the 2010 World Cup, then as manager for the Montreal Impact. In 2013 and 2014, Jesse returned to Princeton as a volunteer coach for our team that captured the 2014 Ivy League title. He then returned to MLS, coaching the NY Red Bulls from 2015-2018. In that short time, Jesse won the 2015 Supporter’s Shield and was named MLS Coach of the Year. In 2018, he decided to go to Europe to become an assistant coach for Bundesliga side RB Leipzig before being named head coach for Austrian side RB Salzburg in 2019. In his two years at Salzburg, Jesse has won both the Austrian Bundesliga and the Austrian Cup, and he has coached into the group stage of the European Champions League twice. He is now preparing his side for a run in the Europa League this spring.


Just rattling off these accomplishments makes me realize how much these two have done for our sport on our campus, in this country and around the world. What is even more amazing, however, is the kind of people Bob and Jesse are. 

I have learned so much from them. They both create environments that get the balance right between competitive and fun. Their culture is grounded in strong relationships and a love for the work that is being done. Both never stop learning. Both also balance the big picture with an incredible eye for the smallest details that matter. 


Neither avoids confrontation or hides from difficult conversations. Both ask you to put yourself out there, to take risks, to “go for it.” Both have taken some huge risks themselves, including going to countries where they don’t even speak the language to take over huge clubs. They both live in the present, enjoy the moment and value every person at their clubs.


Both have incredibly strong and unique spouses who have helped them get where they are. Both have children who have learned similar traits from their parents and fearlessly challenge themselves in different ways.


But Bob and Jesse are not the same person, nor the same coach. 


Their soccer philosophies differ, their teams play differently, they value different team traits as more or less vital to their team’s success. They communicate differently. 


While they both strive to create “originals,” rather than copies, on the field – they have both emerged as originals in the world of coaching. And they have become among the best in the world at what they do.


With some huge games coming up, the Princeton Soccer Family wishes Bob and Jesse good luck – you two have made us all proud to be associated with Princeton Soccer!


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