Jesse Marsch has been busy since the Austrian Bundesliga returned to action. And now, he’s poised to clearly grab the title of the best American soccer manager ever.
On May 29, Marsch became the first American manager to win a major European trophy, when he guided Red Bull Salzburg to a 6-0 victory over Austria Lustenau. Even after selling Erling Haaland to Borussia Dortmund, Marsch’s Salzburg remains on track to win the Austrian double, leading the table by seven points.
Over the weekend, the former Chicago Fire star made headlines of a different sort, proudly rocking a “Black Lives Matter” armband during a match.
As a Red Bull system coach, he’s long been rumored as a candidate to take over at Bundesliga side Red Bull Leipzig whenever Julian Nagelsmann moves on. And now, there are rumors Marsch could grab the top job at an even bigger club—Borussia Dortmund—if BVB decides to move on from Lucien Favre.
Could a guy from Racine, Wisconsin really succeed at one of the world’s biggest clubs?
In October 2016, immediately after Marsch’s former coach Bob Bradley became the first American to manage in the Premier League, the Swansea supporters trust put out a statement blasting the hire. Throughout his entire time there, the thought lingered among fans that Bradley only got the job because Swansea’s American owners wanted an American manager.
Bradley was out shortly after Christmas, without getting even one transfer window to put his stamp on the club. Bradley’s track record with the Fire, USMNT, Egypt, Stabæk, Le Havre, and eventually LAFC proves he can manage. Maybe you can chalk up Bradley’s failure at Swansea in part to the negative energy and doubt around him, but in the end, he didn’t win games.
Whenever Marsch jumps to his next job, whether it’s at BVB, Leipzig, or some other club, there won’t be that same, negative “Who is this American?” vibe surrounding him that Bradley faced. American or not, he’s got the experience and the resume to succeed.
If Marsch goes to BVB, the bar will be absurdly high. Success there means beating out Bayern Munich for the Meisterschale. But, if he can do it, that could end up being the biggest success in American soccer history.
After all, the last BVB manager to beat out Bayern for a title ended up doing well for himself.
It looks like a member of the double-winning 1998 Chicago Fire might just become the first American manager to truly break through in Europe. It’s just not the guy we thought it would be.