Jesse Marsch is sacked by Leeds and becomes an intriguing USMNT coaching candidate


Jesse Marsch has been sacked by Leeds United after less than a year as the club’s head coach.

The sacking, which Leeds confirmed on Monday, comes less than 24 hours after a 1-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest left the club in 17th place, level on points with 18th-placed Everton and on the edge of the English premier’s relegation zone league.

A Wisconsin native, Marsch had risen to heights previously unattained by American coaches in European football. When he took the job at Leeds last February – having climbed the Red Bull ladder from New York to Salzburg in Austria to RB Leipzig in Germany – he became the second US-born Premier League manager ever. And he quickly outlived the first, his mentor Bob Bradley, who spent less than three months in Swansea City in 2016.

Marsch’s first half was a narrow, heartbreaking success. Leeds survived relegation on the last day of the 2021-22 season. It then kicked off in 2022/23 with a rousing win over Chelsea that felt like a momentous one for Americans in the sport at the time. (Two of the club’s key summer signings were USA internationals Brenden Aaronson and Tyler Adams.)

But then the reality of Premier League life caught up with Marsch. Over a two-month period from late August to late October, Leeds took just two points from eight league games. They responded to the growing pressure with dramatic victories against Liverpool and Bournemouth. But they haven’t won a league game since.

From the World Cup break, they returned to Marsch’s dogged high-pressing tactics as ever, but already seemed a bit behind at the halfway point in the season. They earned three draws but also broke down to three losses. By Sunday at the latest, the fans who had arrived chanted: “Jesse, time to go!”

Club officials ruled Monday the fans were right and had seen enough. Marsch, once a rising star in American coaching circles, lost his second straight job without completing a full season.

RB Leipzig, a perennial top-four club in the German Bundesliga, gave him four months before deciding in 2021 that a losing record was unacceptable. At Leeds, his underlying numbers suggested bad luck rather than true futility. But the top-line numbers were clear: Marsch took over a club in 16th place last winter. He finished this season in 17th place and is now leaving the club again in 17th place.

Marsch’s USMNT candidacy

This makes him an intriguing USMNT coaching candidate. A month ago, he was considered a fan favorite to succeed Gregg Berhalter as head coach. The main obstacle seemed to be its availability. Would he really leave the Premier League for a national team job?

Marsch will now be unemployed as US Soccer begins its coaching quest and the question is no longer if or when he would take the job; it’s about whether US Soccer wants him.

Jesse Marsch has left Leeds United after less than a year on the job. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

march has said “Coaching the US national team would be incredible” and that “coaching at home for the World Cup would be an incredible experience”.

And he will certainly be considered. US Soccer is in the early stages of an organizational restructuring. It has hired a consulting firm, Sportsology, to help hire a new athletic director who will ultimately choose the USMNT head coach. Along the way, Cindy Parlow Cone, President of the Sports Science and Soccer Association of the United States, will analyze potential coaching candidates.

But Marsch is no longer the undisputed favorite. His actions and tactics deteriorated fairly quickly at each of his two top-flight jobs – both suited his style far more than a national-team gig. His teams push intensely and relentlessly. This only succeeds if the players work together with each other and with Marsch on a daily basis. They rarely scale or adapt to circumstances.

Marsch would therefore face many of the same challenges as Berhalter. How would he convey his philosophies and implement his system in short international windows? Would its intensity invigorate players or wear them down?

Nonetheless, he is the most accomplished American coach in top-flight European football. Despite his sacking at Leeds, he has lived up to about reasonable expectations – which is nothing to scoff at in the world’s most competitive league.

He also had a better record than Berhalter in Major League Soccer prior to his European adventure. He understands the American landscape and the American player. He would obviously put everything he has into the job. And relieved of any pressure associated with relegation or a quick layoff, perhaps the system implementation would indeed be more makeable.

But Marsch is no longer a homeworker, a name US soccer needs to prioritize and eagerly pursue. It belongs to a potentially wide range of candidates, all with advantages and disadvantages, all with quality, but also warts that pose risks.

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