The American Tactician

The current Head Coach of RB Salzburg, Jesse Marsch has exceeded everyone’s expectations by performing well in the Champions League, winning the Austrian Bundesliga and also The OFB Cup last season. They are also performing great this year as they stand first in the Austrian Bundesliga with half of the season left. Here are the things you need to know about the first American coach to win a European trophy.


Jesse was from Wisconsin, USA. He started playing football at a young age despite it being a sport that was not so famous in America. When he was 15, he was part of a regional team and was on tour at a youth tournament in the UK where he was taken to Anfield to watch Liverpool play. He was a massive fan of European football and dreamt of playing there someday. Before leaving, he ran onto the pitch and scooped some of the turf from the pitch as a souvenir. Such was his love for the sport.

Jesse went to Princeton for his schooling and also played soccer for the Princeton Tigers soccer team where he played as a midfielder and forward and scored 16 official goals for them.


Jesse Marsch in Chicago Bulls
Image Courtesy: Chicago Fire FC

Marsch was then drafted to DC United in 1996 where he spent two years. DC United won those two consecutive seasons but Marsch himself couldn’t make a name for himself and only played 15 matches while he was there. He then joined the Chicago Fire where he became a starter and won the 1998 MLS Cup also making him three times MLS Cup champion. Chicago Fire also won the 1998, 2000 and 2003 US OPEN Cup with Jesse. In 2005 Marsche moved to Chivas USA where he played for 5 seasons and finished his career.

Jesse, when leaving Chicago, had the highest amount of season appearances for them and was a club legend. By the time he ended his playing career, he was one of the only three players to play for 14 seasons in MLS and went down in history as one of the great players of his time. Although he had a good career in the US, he couldn’t make it to Europe he did achieve that later in his coaching career.


In 2012, Jesse was appointed as the first head coach of the Montreal Impact, who were playing their first MLS campaign. Montreal ended 12th in the season with 42 points. Although the players and the fans were content with the manager’s way of doing things, the club’s management fired Marsch justifying by saying there was a conflict of philosophy between the Club and the manager. After spending a couple of years coaching Princeton’s College team, he was called to make his entry in the Red Bull’s Football Empire.


Jesse Marsch in Ney York Red Bulls
Image Courtesy: Ney York Red Bulls

In January 2015, Marsch became the Head Coach of the New York Red Bulls replacing Mike Petke, who was the most successful coach in the team’s history. Before Petke, New York Red Bulls hadn’t won any trophies and were not one of the top clubs of the league but Petke helped them win their first major trophy. He had revolutionised the club and had won the hearts of the fans by doing so. The fans were not at all happy when Mike got fired and Jesse was appointed. Marsch was under immense pressure as he was about to replace a club legend.

Jesse did an amazing job in his first season and led the club to The MLS Supporters Shield. He also made a club record of 18 league victories and 60 points. With this, he was named as The MLS Coach of the year in his first season with the red bulls. In 2018, Marsch left the club but had surely made a difference during his time at the American side. He led his team in 151 matches out of which he had won 76 and drawn 30. After the success in New York Red Bulls, Marsche kind of got promoted.


Marsch was appointed to be the assistant coach of the German Club, Rb Leipzig in the 2018/19 season. The head coach at the time was Ralf Ragnick. Ralf Ragnick had been an integral part of RB Leipzig and had held many managerial positions for the club. RB Leipzig was only founded in 2009 and has only played in the Bundesliga since 2016. Ralf was highly experienced and had deeply contributed to the club’s success and Marsche’s one season here was probably a training phase for him by the club’s legend himself.
Jesse learnt the working of European football here and also the famous Gegen Pressing, German Managers tend to use. After one season in the German Club, Jesse was appointed as the head coach in Leipzig’s sister club RB Salzburg.


RB Salzburg plays in the Austrian Bundesliga and have won the last 7 seasons straight. Unlike RB Leipzig, this is an old club with a lot of history. Red Bull bought the club in 2005 and rebuilt their whole system and the club has been doing wonderful ever since. The fans weren’t really happy with the idea of an outsider leading their team. Banners saying ‘No to Marsch’ were seen even before he was officially hired. Although all the haters are nowhere to be seen now as he has done a marvelous job winning both, The Austrian Bundesliga and the Austrian Cup in his first season. He also did good in the CL and although he didn’t qualify for the knockout rounds, his team’s performance was fair considering their opponents. Currently, the Austrian side is first in their league and will play in the knockout stage of the Europa League next month.


Jesse Marsch has always believed in high paced gameplay. He applies Gegen Pressing, which he learned during his time in RB Leipzig and feels that losing the ball is not an issue if you can get the possession again and attack. He plays central during counter-attacks and scarcely uses his wings to push the ball ahead. Jesse doesn’t use a fixed formation and he improvises seeing the condition of the game. He has till now used 9 different formations during his time in Salzburg. Jesse pushes his players to press as much as they can and uses this pressure to destabilise the opposition’s defense. Watching Salzburg play under Marsch is similar to watching Klopp’s Liverpool. Jesse has a radical style of play with highly intensive pressing and man-marking and his tactics seem to work so far.


Jesse Marsch is bold and passionate. He gives his all while working with the team and loves what he is doing. Even though he came from a small state in the US, he believed in himself no matter what everyone said and did what no other American could to prove himself. He is a man who is strong-willed, brave and a man who leaves his comfort zone in order to succeed without hesitating. These qualities can even be seen in his team while they are playing and this shows that Jesse Marsch is a true leader who is willing to go the extra mile.


Last season, a snippet of the halftime team talk by Jesse Marsch during the Champions League game against Liverpool went viral and shook the internet. Liverpool was winning 3 goals to nil and Jesse was furious. He tried to motivate his players in a mixed German/American Curse words to do so. His strong words inspired his players who went on to score three goals in quick succession and conceding none till the 69th minute.
Although Salzburg lost the game, they showed the world how ferocious the club can be, Liverpool, being one of the best teams in the World were challenged by the underdogs. The world saw the potential of the Club and how their Head Coach inspired his team and turned the game around.


Jesse has been doing wonderful in Europe, but there is a possibility of him leading his national team. USMNT has not been doing great at the sport and with promising young players rising, they might have a chance to make their name on the International scene. Jesse has been known for grooming young talented players like Haaland, Minamino in Salzburg and might be able to build a lot of young players in America. Players like Pulisic, Chris Richards, Giovanni Reyna, Josh Sargent are already rising from the country and this might be the perfect time for USA to rebuild its National Team and Jesse might be the perfect guy to do it.

Jesse Marsch’s Career has been full of people saying he won’t succeed and him proving them wrong at every point. He currently looks promising in RB Salzburg and might be there for years to come. He is also one of the favorite candidates for leading the USA in the 2022 Fifa World Cup and it will be interesting to see how he does with the North American players.

Karthik Mudaliar
A Manchester City fan, who idolizes Guardiola. Never blue unlike the team he supports, you will always find him smiling. He spends his free time playing Fifa and watching anime on most days.

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