Canada to hire Jesse Marsch as head coach ahead of Copa America

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Jesse Marsch has been named the next coach of Canada’s men’s national soccer team, the Canadian soccer federation announced on Monday.

Marsch, 50, is the former coach of Leeds United, RB Leipzig, Red Bull Salzburg and New York Red Bulls. He will take over as coach for Canada’s upcoming friendlies against Netherlands on June 6 and France on June 9.

“This team is going to be something that the entire Canadian community is going to be so excited about and ready to support. We’re going to play with power and inspiration,” Marsch said as part of the announcement.

According to sources, the imminent nature of the upcoming friendlies led Canada Soccer to make a hire as urgently as possible, with Canada Soccer general secretary Kevin Blue had leading the process with the input of multiple former men’s national team players. Multiple sources said the input of the former players weighed heavily in the selection of Marsch.

With New York, Marsch won MLS Supporters Shield and was named MLS Coach of the Year in 2018. With Salzburg and Leipzig, he gained experience coaching in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League. That experience, combined with his understanding of the North American soccer landscape made him a fit for the position, according to sources briefed on the search.

It is not currently known whether current interim coach Mauro Biello will continue with the men’s national team in another role.

What does Marsch bring to Canada?

Marsch was a candidate for the U.S. men’s national team job that eventually went to Gregg Berhalter, who was brought back for a second cycle with the U.S.

The former Red Bull coach — at New York, Salzburg and Leipzig — also has international experience. He was an assistant coach on Bob Bradley’s U.S. staff during the 2010 World Cup cycle.

Marsch wrote about his experience in that tournament for The Athletic during the 2022 World Cup.

“Planning out how to play in a World Cup is not easy. If I’m the manager, I’m asking myself, ‘All right, based on the opponent and what the games are going to require, what is necessary in the team?’ We did this a lot in 2010,” Marsch wrote. “We looked at each game, knowing that we were going to have to have some rotation and use our entire squad the right way. We tried to predict what each game was going to look like and then which players would fit the idea of what the game was, what our match plan was going to be and what the match-ups were going to be on the day.”

Marsch prefers to play “against the ball” in a high-pressing style. A disciple of Ralf Rangnick’s Red Bull teams, Marsch found success at both the New York Red Bulls and at Salzburg pressing opponents and playing an up-tempo style of transition soccer.

Marsch once said he is OK failing in that type of system because it’s a big part of how he thinks and believes in the game. This Canada team has plenty of pieces capable of fitting into that type of system, with players like Alphonso Davies, Tajon Buchanan, Jonathan David, Ismaël Koné, Alistair Johnson, Cyle Larin and Jacob Shaffelburg.

“If I fail doing it this way, I’m OK,” Marsch said. “I’ve learned enough in this life and in this profession that you have to do it the way you want, because if you get caught trying to be something else or trying to do something else then you just get chewed up and spat out, and then who knows where things end? I’ve established myself enough as a coach that I can do it that way, and if people don’t like me, or don’t want to do it this way, there is no problem with that. There’s no problem with that. It’s their club and their business and they’re the owner. But then I’ll find someone who does want to think the same way as me.” – Paul Tenorio

(Photo: Pat Scaasi/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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