Alexi Lalas says Jesse Marsch’s departure from Leeds will dent the reputation of American soccer after the coach was fired on Monday with less than a year in the job.
Marsch was dismissed a day after Leeds lost 1-0 to Nottingham Forest to leave the team above the relegation zone on goal difference, level on points with 18th place Everton. Leeds often played well under Marsch but failed to convert positive displays into points and now faces a fight to retain its Premier League status.
Former USA international Lalas responded to Marsch’s exit on Twitter, writing: ‘Fair decision to fire Jesse Marsch. But his failure also provides ammunition to those looking to criticize the quality of American coaches (and American soccer).
‘It’s an ongoing battle for credibility, on and off the field. But it comes with the territory. Onward and upward.’
Marsch signed three USA internationals at Leeds in Tyler Adams, Brendan Aaronson and Weston McKennie – who only joined last week and made his debut as a substitute against Forest. He also appointed American coach Chris Armas to his staff just two weeks ago.
Jesse Marsch was fired as Leeds coach on Monday with the team 17th in the Premier League
Adams signed Tyler Adams – the USA captain – in one of three American transfers at Leeds
Alexi Lalas said Marsch’s exit from Leeds could damage the reputation of American soccer
When Marsch arrived at Leeds in February last year, he said the Ted Lasso television series didn’t help his own reputation as an American in soccer. Lalas, however, rejected a suggestion from a follower that the show held Marsch back.
‘I think Ted Lasso obviously leans into stereotypes of Americans, American coaches, and American soccer…because it makes for good TV,’ Lalas said. ‘But it’s not hurting American soccer. Ted Lasso had nothing to do with Jesse Marsch getting fired. We (Americans) can laugh at ourselves.’
Lalas also backed Marsch as a candidate to become USA coach. The vacancy is open after Gregg Berhalter’s contract expired amid an investigation into a domestic violence incident during his teenage years with his now wife, that was leaked to US Soccer by USA international Gio Reyna’s parents.
‘I think Jesse Marsch would most certainly and rightly be on any short list of candidates for #USMNT coach,’ Lalas said. ‘His appeal largely stems from his European experience, where he has had mixed results.’
Former United States international Taylor Twellman, meanwhile, said: ‘Everton’s result vs Arsenal this weekend (a 1-0 win) convinces Leeds United to make this move.
‘It’s about survival and results. Yes Leeds played better than Forest on the weekend but they lost and that is the bottom line. $40m spent in transfer window and he gets 1 game. Just the reality unfortunately.’
Another former USA international, Herculez Gomez, sympathized with Marsch.
‘Haven’t won in more than 3 months in the Premier League. (7 straight) 3 pts from last place in a league where 6 points separate 14th and 20th. Lack of finishing did them in recently, but this team defensively gave up way too much,’ Gomez said.
Lalas backed Marsch as a candidate to take over as coach of the United States national team
NBC analyst Robbie Mustoe, meanwhile, tweeted: ‘WOW!!! Didn’t see that coming so quickly. Wonder how McKennie feels?? TOO SOON Leeds.’
Stu Holden, the former USA midfielder and Bolton player in the Premier League, said on Sunday night he was worried for Marsch’s Leeds future.
‘Concerning trend for Leeds and Jesse Marsch,’ he wrote. ‘Long stretches of dominating games with no cutting edge and conceding weak goals. Right in middle of relegation battle and Jesse’s margin for error gets smaller and smaller.’
Leeds plays Manchester United in its next two Premier League games, the first being at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.
Leeds backed Marsch in the January transfer window – spending a club record Georginio Rutter for $38.5million and recruiting United States midfielder McKennie from Juventus on loan, but with a view to a $30m permanent deal if Leeds stays in the Premier League.
Marsch brought in Armas to join his coaching team and his status at present is unclear – the Leeds statement confirming Marsch’s departure on Monday made no reference to him.
Leeds said: ‘Leeds United can confirm head coach Jesse Marsch has been relieved of his duties.
‘Jesse joined the club in February 2022 and was instrumental in keeping the club in the Premier League on the final day of last season. Rene Maric, Cameron Toshack and Pierre Barrieu will also leave the club.
It doesn’t get easier for Leeds – the next two Premier League games are vs Manchester United
American coach Chris Armas joined Leeds and Marsch two weeks ago but seems to be staying
‘We would like to thank Jesse and his backroom staff for their efforts and wish them well for the future. The process of appointing a new head coach is underway and we will continue to keep supporters up to date throughout the coming days.’
Leeds last won a Premier League game on November 5, against Bournemouth at Elland Road.
After Sunday’s defeat by Forest, Marsch said: ‘I have to find a way to turn good performances into winning because that’s where we are and where we’ve been for a while. It’s the last step for me. I understand the frustration and I accept it.
‘I have to find a way to turn good things into results, or we find ourselves in a stressful situation. I understand.
‘It’s difficult to have the right words for the team right now because the emotion is obviously strong but my last message was it’s a big week. It’s a huge week. Internally, we have belief here. We do. The players are all in. They’re giving everything they have.’