Jesse Marsch celebrated his first game back as
coach of Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg following the 10-week lock-down with his first trophy in Europe.
Salzburg crushed second division Austria Lustenau, 5-0, in the OFB-Cup final to make Marsch the first American-born and -bred coach to win a trophy in a European country.
Marsch arrived last summer from RB Leipzig, where he spent a season as an assistant coach after working in MLS as a head coach at the Montreal Impact and New York Red Bulls.
He inherited one of the most talented and ambitious small clubs in Europe -- Salzburg is the six-time defending Austrian league champion -- but a team that lost two of its biggest stars during the winter break. Norwegian teenager Erling Haaland joined Borussia Dortmund, and Japanese Takumi Minamino was transferred to Liverpool.
Salzburg has made a name for itself by aggressively recruiting young players and then moving them on. Naby Keita and Sadio Mane are also at Liverpool while French defender Dayot Upamecano is at RB Leipzig after signing with Austria Lustenau at the age of 16.
The moves came after Salzburg finished a respectable third in its group in the UEFA Champions League, its first appearance in the group stage in a quarter century. Marsch was the first American to coach in the Champions League.
Salzburg slipped after the season resumed in February, going winless in three Bundesliga games before defeating Sturm Graz, 2-0, on March 8 in the last game before play was shut down because of the growing coronavirus outbreak. By then, it had relinquished the Bundesliga, falling six points behind LASK Linz.
Salzburg quickly took control of the cup final with two goals in the first 21 minutes. Hungarian teenager Dominik Szoboszlai scored on a free kick in the 19th minute and a ball Korean Hee Chan Hwang attempted to play to Szoboszlai two minutes later went off an Austria Lustenau defender into the goal for an own goal.
Goals by 20-year-old Swiss international Noah Okafor, 22-year-old Ghanaian Majeed Ashimeru and 20-year-old Malian Sekou Koita completed the rout in the second half.
"Szobo's first goal was very important for us," said Marsch afterwards. "After that, we had everything under control. It feels good to win this trophy. Our boys put so much in during the lock-down. I am very proud of them. We can enjoy this evening and the honor. Now, we have the league, which we want to win, too, of course."
Salzburg's next game is at home against Rapid Wien in the first game of the Bundesliga's 10-game championship round. Points from the first stage are halved, so Salzburg was supposed to begin the final round with a three-point deficit it needed to make up on LASK Linz.
But LASK Linz was docked 12 points -- six points it would have taken into the championship -- for breaking the Austrian sports ministry's social-distancing rules when it was caught on tape training as a team when safety rules limited training to groups of six players.
Pending an appeal, LASK dropped to second place, trailing Salzburg by three points instead of leading it by three points.
The top six teams play off for the Bundesliga title and European places in the championship round; the bottom six meet to avoid relegation.