Midweek musings

Marsch lands Leipzig job, Dike negotiations continue, CCL rolls on & more

American soccer continues to break boundaries on all fronts. Pulisic yesterday and Jesse Marsch today. The Wisconsin native will take over RB Leipzig starting next season and will inherit one of the Bundesliga's best teams. ASN's Brian Sciaretta chimes in on that as well as other stories in American soccer. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
April 29, 2021
10:00 AM

IN ONE OF THE BIGGEST moves in the history of American coaches, Jesse Marsch was formally named the next manager of RB Leipzig. The Wisconsin native will take over for Julian Nagelsmann following this season after Nagelsmann accepted the job at Bayern Munich.

Marsch, 47, will finish the season with Red Bull Salzburg before moving to Leipzig for the coming preseason. Marsch moved to Salzburg after a successful stint with the New York Red Bulls where he won a Supporters Shield. In his first year with Salzburg, he continued success winning the Austrian Bundesliga and Austrian Cup. This year, he will likely win the Austrian Bundesliga and potentially the Cup as well again.

During his various coaching tenures, Marsch has shown the ability to work well with truly elite players. He has managed Erling Haaland, Tyler Adams and most recently Dominik Szoboszlai and Patson Daka. Now heading to one of the best teams in Germany, he will be used to the Red Bull philosophy and working with the type of players that are needed at this level.

Marsch also now has experience in the Champions League – having managed in the elite competition the last two years. While those teams were overmatched by top teams in top leagues, they still managed to compete well despite failing to advance.

This is a huge move for an American soccer manager and Marsch will be breaking new ground. While Bob Bradley and Pellegrino Matarazzo (both American born and raised) have managed in top leagues, Marsch will be the first to inherit a team that is second in the Bundesliga and expected to advance to the knockout rounds.

Matarazzo took over Stuttgart in the second tier in midseason, earned promotion, and managed to survive the first year in the Bundesliga. Bradley took over Swansea early in the season and was fired quickly before his first transfer window. Marsch, however, now has the ability to inherit a team for preseason with the expectations that the team will finish top four next year and advance in the Champions League.

Marsch is yet another sign of progress for American soccer and even MLS – where Marsch played his entire playing career and started his coaching career. More and more barriers continued to be broken.

Christian Pulisic raised the bar this week for American players by scoring in the Champions League semifinal. Daryl Dike, off one season in with Orlando, has put Barnsley on his back in their promotional chase. MLS teams have embraced selling in impressive fashion the past 2-3 years and this has only enhanced development – and many of the players who have moved have made instant impacts.

But Marsch’s move has only continued to break more boundaries and raise bars.


CONCACAF Champions League


The CONCACAF Champions League rolled on this past week. As mentioned yesterday, Toronto was always unlikely to compete with Cruz Azul with an old roster and without Alejandro Pozuelo and Yeferson Soteldo.

The remaining teams in the league to take on Liga MX opponents played on Wednesday night and the results were largely disappointing with Columbus conceding late against Monterrey in a 2-2 draw. Portland meanwhile played to a 1-1 draw against Club America where both goals were from penalites and Portland drew late.

Both were very frustrating results because in both games, Columbus and Portland were the better teams and had most of the chances.

In the end, however, both Club America and Monterrey scored an away goal and Liga MX teams are typically dominant at home. To advance, Columbus and Portland will need to travel to Mexico and win over the course of 90 minutes.

If one team does that, that will be extremely impressive.


Orlando & Barnsley negotiate Dike


Julia Poe yesterday dropped an interesting but expected report that Orlando and Barnsley were negotiating terms to allow Daryl Dike to remain with Barnsley through the promotional playoffs. Under the terms of the current loan, Orlando holds an option to recall Dike on May 3.

What we learned in the report is that the loan thus far has been free, surely Orlando will be looking to adjust this as well as adjust other terms in their favor – perhaps the terms of the buyout provision as well.

It's easy to see why the loan was structured this way. At the time it was agreed to, the more likely scenario is that with two games remaining before the playoffs, Barnsley was likely going to be sitting somewhere 8th or 9th and the playoffs were way out of reach. Orlando could recall him and not have him miss more regular season games.

On the flip side, they knew there was the chance that Dike would blow up. This recall gives them leverage to receive compensation and perhaps rework the buyout number.

This should not surprise Barnsley either. They agreed to these terms and the loan has benefited them tremendously. Dike has scored nine goals since February and this week was named their Player of the Month. Before he arrived, Barnsley only had a distant shot of making the playoffs. Now they have it clinched.

Meanwhile, Orlando has scored just once in their first two games of the season. The club is clearly missing Dike – who is a major source of their attack.

I think Dike will stay with Barnsley but Orlando would be crazy not to use this leverage and get something more favorable. Dike probably won’t be with Orlando much longer, but Orlando should be looking to maximize returns.


Aaronson and Steffen: title hunts


Two American players made steps in their pursuit of silverware – although nothing much was worth talking about on the field.

Brenden Aaronson earned the start for Red Bull Salzburg on Wednesday in the Austrian Bundesliga but was subbed out at the half of what turned out to be a 1-1 draw with Wolfsberger. Aaronson played just the first half before getting pulled when the score was 0-0.

In the UEFA Champions League semifinal, Manchester City defeated Paris St. Germain in the first leg of the semifinal 2-1. Now returning to Manchester next week, the club has a great chance of advancing to the final.

Zack Steffen was the backup keeper for Manchester City and did not see the field – as is typical playing behind Ederson. Outside of cup matches, Steffen rarely plays as Ederson (who is just 27) is one of the best in the world.

At some point, Steffen will need to seek out a place where he can play regularly. Being on perhaps the best team in the world is, of course, good but players need to play. Thus far, Steffen’s resume since moving to Europe from Columbus is thin. He played the first half of the season for Fortuna Dusseldorf in a season where it was relegated out of the Bundesliga. This season minutes have been limited.

This experience is great. Even as a backup, a Premier League title and perhaps a Champions League-winning medal will always open doors. Plus, this hasn’t been particularly taxing on his knees – where he was sidelined for half a season at Fortuna. There will be teams opening to taking him in as a starter. He should look for a loan next season.

Manchester City right now is serving its purpose and being part of a likely run to the Champions League final and maybe winning it – is huge.




FC Dallas homegrown Justin Che is on-loan at Bayern Munich and has been splitting his time between Bayern’s U-23 reserve team and the U-19 team.

This past week, however, the 17-year-old central defender has been training with Bayern’s first team. This is a sign that the club really wants to get a strong look at him. At this point, a purchase from FC Dallas along the lines of what happened with Chris Richards seems likely. But it will also be interesting to see what path they have for the American – who also has German and Russian citizenship.


Meanwhile Julian Green and Greuther Furth had a huge comeback win on Wednesday that only strengthen its chances for promotion to the Bundesliga. Green earned the start against Sandhausen but left in the 58th minute with Furth down 2-1. The club managed to score in the 77th and 86th minutes for the win. It now sits in second place with a six point lead on Hamburg (which as a game in hand) and a seven point lead on Holstein Kiel (which has three games in hand).

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