Canada name Marsch national team coach ahead of Copa America

Former Leeds United and RB Leipzig manager Jesse Marsch is the new manager of the Canada men’s national team, the Canada Soccer Association announced on Monday.

The announcement was made over a CSA social media account via a Facetime call between Marsch and national team CEO Kevin Blue. Marsch replaces John Herdman, who resigned last August to take up the managerial job at MLS side Toronto FC.

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

“I can’t wait to get started.”

Marsch will lead Canada at this summer’s Copa America, where the team is grouped with World Cup champions Argentina, Peru and Chile. His first games in charge will be in friendlies against the Netherlands on June 6 and France on June 9.

The hiring immediately ratchets up the rivalry between the men’s teams of Canada and the United States. After Gregg Berhalter’s contract with the USMNT was allowed to expire at the end of 2022, Marsch was a finalist for the U.S. job. But the U.S. Soccer Federation ultimately decided to go back to Berhalter following an investigation into a decades old domestic violence incident.

The U.S. had dominated Canada for a period of 34 years between 1985 and 2019, going unbeaten over 17 matches. But Canada has played the U.S. on more level terms since then, with the Canadians going 2-3-2 as it qualified for the 2022 World Cup, earning four out of a possible six points against the U.S. in World Cup qualifying.

It was Canada’s first successful World Cup qualifying campaign since 1986.

The post will be Marsch’s first since being fired by Leeds back in February of 2023. He managed to keep the team in the Premier League at the conclusion of the 2021-22 campaign, with a win at Brentford on the last day of the season. But Marsch and Leeds were unable to build on that reprieve and were ultimately relegated at the end of the 2022-23 campaign.

Marsch also endured a brief spell at Leipzig in which the team struggled during his four months in charge, winning just five of 14 league matches.

Marsch had considerably more success with the New York Red Bulls and FC Red Bull Salzburg. Marsch led the Red Bulls to two Supporters’ Shields in 2015 and 2018. With Salzburg he led the team to consecutive league and cup doubles, as well as twice earning progression to the group stage of the UEFA Champions League.