Americans abroad analysis

Marsch out at Leipzig as most Americans struggle throughout Europe

Jesse Marsch is out as the Leipzig manager. Many American players in Europe struggled with the notable excpetions of Chris Richards, Sam Vines, and Christian Ramirez. Overall it's been a tough several months for Americans abroad and ASN's Brian Sciaretta walks you through it all. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
December 05, 2021
5:45 PM

YET AGAIN, IT WAS another bad weekend for Americans abroad. It’s become a disappointing trend over most of the past few months and it should be a concern as many of the European leagues reach their midway point. A few good performances aside, this weekend was lackluster and the top story is that the top American club coach in the game lost his job.


Marsch out at Leipzig


Jesse Marsch is out as the RB Leipzig head coach after the club lost to Union Berlin 2-1 on Friday. Marsch was not actually on the bench for this game as he has missed the last three games due to COVID. Still, he was making the major decisions and relaying them to the staff. Tyler Adams started in the game and actually had an assist on Leipzig’s goal – although it was largely an individual effort.

With the loss, Leipzig fell to 11th place in the Bundesliga while are also struggling to finish third in their Champions League group just to qualify for the Europa League.

The leash Marsch had in Leipzig was short.  After winning two Austrian Bundesliga titles with Salzburg, Marsch moved to a Leipzig team which was the runners up in the Bundesliga the last two seasons.

But the team was far different. Top players were sold as Dayot Upamecano and Marcel Sabitzer were sold to Bayern Munich and Ibrahima Konaté was sold to Liverpool. Marsch was brought in knowing he would be more tied with the Red Bull system than his predecessor Julian Nagelesman and he did so with a less talented squad.

Marsch’s team dropped points at times where they shouldn’t have but the Wisconsin native wasn’t even allowed to get to the transfer window and essentially begin building his own team.

Was it a harsh decision? Yes. But this is how European soccer works among the top teams in the top five leagues. Fellow American manager Pellegrino Matarazzo has struggled a bit with Stuttgart this season but he remains at the club because expectations aren’t quite as high. At big clubs, expectations are high and decisions sometimes aren’t fair. This isn’t the first time a manager a club of this level was treated with a rash decision.

As for Marsch, he will land on his feet. Whether or not it is in Europe remains to be seen. He has served as an assistant manager before and that might be an option. He probably could also get a first team head coaching job as vacancies might open during the winter. With two Austrian Bundesliga titles, two Austrian cups, plus a long list of impressive young players he has managed (like Erling Haaland for starters), he will catch someone's eye. With numerous MLS gigs still open and with the demand at an all-time high for coaches who know the league, it is easy to see teams willing to spend a lot on Marsch (LAFC is definitely the top job open domestically).

It certainly is disappointing to see an American trailblazer like Jesse Marsch suffer a setback but almost all coaches get fired at some point. He won’t be unemployed for that long.


Armas to become Man U assistant


On Monday morning, Taylor Twellman broke the news that former United States national team midfielder Chris Armas would join Ralf Rangnick’s staff at Manchester United as an assistant coach. Rangnick was hired as an interim head coach for the remainder of the 2021/22 season after the club fired Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Armas was on Jesse Marsch’s staff from 2015 to 2018 and his career highlight came in 2018 with the New York Red Bulls when Marsch left for Europe halfway through the season and Armas guided the club to the Supporters Shield. Armas was later given the job on a full-time basis but was fired in 2020 when the club began to struggle. He was hired as Toronto FC’s head coach ahead of the 2021 season but was fired 11 games into the season after winning just once.

In addition to coaching RB Leipzig, Rangnick had previously served as head of sport and development for Red Bull GmbH – which included a role overseeing the New York Red Bulls. During this period, New York won three Supporters Shields. It was at this time where Rangnick likely became familiar with Armas while he was a top assistant to Jesse Marsch.

Regardless of how his two previous head coaching gigs ended, this is a massive opportunity for Armas to continue to learn and develop as a coach at an environment in Manchester United under an important figure like Ralf Rangnick.



What went wrong this weekend?


Unfortunately, Marsch losing his job was only the tip of the iceberg in terms of rough news for Americans abroad (both Europe and South America).

Two of the top American players remained out with injuries. Gio Reyna was still out for Borussia Dortmund and he did not play in the club’s 3-2 loss at home to Bayern Munich. Weston McKennie avoided a serious injury last weekend when a knock to his knee forced him out of a 1-0 loss to Atalanta. The Texan, however, was not in the 18 for the club’s 2-0 win over Genoa on Sunday.

Joe Scally at just 18 has been a model of consistency for Borussia Monchengladbach this season but he learned a hard lesson on Sunday when the club dropped a 6-0 decision at home to a very good Freiburg team. Like every player on M’Gladbach, Scally went the distance but did not have a good game. He was only at fault for Freiburg’s second goal, but he also wasn’t able to help his team push forward and help dictate the pace of the game. This was a useful learning lesson for a young player. A team that can beat Bayern Munich 5-0 can also lose to Freiburg 6-0.

Staying the Bundesliga, Pellegrino Matarazzo is the only American manager in a top league and his Stuttgart team blew a 2-0 lead at home to Hertha BSC in what was a 2-2 draw.

Mainz blew past Wolfsburg 3-0 on Saturday. John Brooks started for Wolfsburg but he struggled and was one of three Wolfsburg players pulled to start the second half.

Julian Green did not get off the bench for Greuther Furth in an embarrassing 7-1 loss to Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday. Furth remain on pace to be one of the worst Bundesliga teams in history with just one point and a -34 goal differential after 14 games. Whether it is good or bad that Green did not play is a debate simply not worth having. He can’t be in a good place in an environment like this and the fact that all he has to look forward to is the 2.Bundesliga next season is not idea to the progression of his career.

In the Premier League, Christian Pulisic played the final 12 minutes for Chelsea in a 2-1 derby loss away at West Ham. Pulisic was relatively uninvolved and was on the field for West Ham’s winner. Zack Steffen did not get off the bench for Manchester City in a 3-1 away win over Watford.

Last-place Norwich dropped a 3-0 decision on the road to Tottenham in an expected result. Josh Sargent was dropped from the starting XI but played the final 22 minutes. He had one big miss on the team’s best scoring chance of the game but otherwise was quiet. It’s been a rough season for Sargent and his biggest problem is confidence. If he buried the sitters, he’d be in a better frame of mind and better form.

In La Liga, Sergino Dest made his first start for Barcelona under new manager Xavi. Dest, like many of his teammates, struggled in a 1-0 loss at home to a very good Real Betis team. Barcelona needs a ton of work to become one of the elite teams in the world again. Dest was unable to get forward very much or create anything dangerous from the right side. He will get more opportunities, but this is a tough assignment with an anxious and disappointed fanbase which will probably push for massive overhauls.

On Friday, Matt Miazga went as an unused sub for Deportivo Alaves in a 2-1 loss on the road to Genanda. Alaves sit just two points above the relegation zone.

On Sunday, Yunus Musah played the final six minutes plus stoppage time for Valencia in a 2-1 away win over Celta Vigo. Musah had just three nonconsequential touches in his brief outing. The only other news from La Liga is that Matthew Hoppe remains out injured for Mallorca.

In Serie A, it was an absolute disaster for Venezia when they hosted Hellas Verona on Sunday. Both Gianluca Busio and Tanner Tessmann started this game on the bench. The game couldn’t have started any better for Venezia which had a 3-0 lead at halftime. That is when the wheels completely fell off. Hellas Verona rallied with three quick goals and Venezia was reduced to 10 players. Busio came in in the 64th minute and Tessmann came in in the 75th to help stop the bleeding – but they were unsuccessful as Hellas Verona found an 85th minute winner.

Venezia still sit five points above the relegation zone and that is better than expected given where the club was after the first few games of the season. But their positive momentum has been halted and three straight losses have hurt. It remains to be seen if the heartbreaking nature of this loss will linger.

Also in Serie A, Bryan Reynolds was an unused sub for AS Roma in a 3-0 loss at home to Inter Milan. Jose Mourinho only used two subs in the loss. Reynolds will join the U.S. national team’s December camp at some point, but it remains unclear when Mourinho will let him go.

In Ligue 1, Tim Weah did not participate in Lille’s 2-1 win over Troyes, but his was likely due to rest ahead of the midweek Champions League game. Erik Palmer-Brown remains out injured for Troyes.

Marseille lost to Brest 2-1 at home on Saturday. Konrad de la Fuente started but was ineffective and was subbed out at the 57th minute mark. The Miami area native has struggled to make an impact for the past six weeks. Still the club see the upside are are continuing to let him play and work through it. The loss, however, might force a change. 

In Belgium, Chris Durkin earned the start for St. Truiden and played 82 minutes but the Richmond, VA native wasn’t able to help his team avoid a 2-1 loss at home to upstart leaders Union St. Gilloise.

In Portugal, U.S. national team right back Reggie Cannon was an unused substitute for Boavista as they conceded a stoppage time equalizer to Maritimo to play to a 1-1 draw at home.

In the Eredivisie, Luca de la Torre and Heracles hold the last automatic survival place after dropping a lethargic 1-0 decision to Heerenveen. 

In the Swiss Super League, Jordan Perfok started for BSC Young Boys as they hosted Servette on Saturday. Pefok was subbed out at halftime (with Young Boys up 1-0) due to a teammate’s red card forcing a defensive tactical shift. The tactical adjustment did not work and Servette rallied for a 2-1 win. The four-time defending Swiss champs, Young Boys are nine points behind leaders FC Zurich and are in fourth place.

In Turkey, U.S. national team right back DeAndre Yedlin started and played 89 minutes for Galatasaray in a 1-1 draw at home with Altay. Yedlin picked up a yellow card and wasn’t bad, but this has been a disappointing season for Galatasaray, which expects to compete for the title every season. But in 2021/22, Galatasaray are in seventh place and 16 points behind Trabzonspor.

At the very bottom of the Turkish Super Lig, things are worse for Tyler Boyd. He remains a starter for Rizespor but rarely making any sort of positive impact. On Saturday, he played 66 minutes for Rizespor in a 4-0 loss to Fenerbahce. The club sit dead last and are eight points deep in the relegation hole. Boyd is at the club on loan from Besiktas who would love to unload him as soon as they can.

In Argentina, Alan Sonora has been having a good season for Independiente but was off his game and struggled in a 1-1 draw with San Lorenzo on Sunday night.

In Serie B, Andrija Novakovich was an unused sub for Frosinone in a 1-1 draw with Ternana.

In the Championship, Matthew Olosunde made his first start of the season – playing right back for Preston North End but wasn’t able to help his team achieve a result in a 1-0 loss on the road to Blackburn.

Finally, at the top of the Championship, Tim Ream and Fulham were unable to take advantage of a big opportunity when hosting second place AFC Bournemouth at Craven Cottage. Ream played well but a 1-1 draw to Bournemouth is disappointing despite the result keeping Fulham atop the table. Antonee Robinson missed the game with an illness.


Richards surges for Hoffenheim


While most of the weekend was dismal for Americans abroad, the one American who managed to put in a top performance in one of the top European leagues was Chris Richards. It came at a good time for Richards who was making his first start for Hoffenheim since October 23 and came through with a performance that showed why he should be starting for Hoffenheim.

In a 3-2 win over Eintracht Frankfurt (which fellow American Timothy Chandler started in the loss), Richards was not at fault for either of Eintracht’s goals. Defensively, he was solid and won just about every lose ball which he had a chance to win. He frequently intercepted Eintracht’s passes into the box and was solid in nearly every facet of the game except for his long-balls out of the back.


Richards was not in a great place heading into this game as he had lost his starting spot with Hoffenheim. Still, he was a regular off the bench (not common for a central defender) so it was clear that he was eventually going to get another chance. In this game, he seized his opportunity.


Ramirez’s big outing for Aberdeen


Heading up to Scotland, Aberdeen’s Christian Ramirez remains one of the Scottish Premierships best goalscores this season and the former Houston Dynamo, LAFC, and Minnesota United forward bagged two for his club in a 4-1 win over St. Mirren. Those two goals gave him eight goals in the Premiership this season and 11 in all competitions for Aberdeen since transferring from Houston in June.

Ramirez’s first goal (Aberdeen’s second goal) was a really impressive finish.

It will be interesting to see what happens to Ramirez after this season. He’s no doubt going to be in demand by a club who could use someone to help immediately.


Vines impresses for Antwerp


Sam Vines hasn’t always been solid for Royal Antwerp since completing his transfer from the Colorado Rapids in August – following winning the Gold Cup with the U.S. national team. His integration was slowed by a broken collarbone and he missed six weeks.

But Vines has been solid more times than he’s been off and he has locked down the starting left back job for Royal Antwerp, which now sits in second place in Belgium’s First Division.

On Sunday, Vines went the distance in a 1-0 away win over last-place Beerschot. His numbers were decent.


What has been particularly striking about Vines and his early steps at Antwerp is that he’s become more of a conventional left back. At Colorado and with the U.S. national team, he was very offensively minded. At Antwerp, he is defensively minded. While there have been concerns over this area of his game, his defense has been solid. Now, if/when he reintroduces his offense to the mix, he could be very, very effective as a top left back in the Belgian league.


Anything else good?


There is no sugar coating that this weekend was mostly entirely negative for Americans abroad. There still were some other net positives aside from Richards, Ramirez, and Vines.

Mark McKenzie returned to the starting lineup for KRC Genk and he played the entire game in a 1-1 draw with KV Mechelen. Genk are likely to be disappointed by this result as KV Mechelen were reduced to 10 players in the 62nd minute with the score 1-1 but were able to bunker their way for a draw. McKenzie wasn’t tested much defensively and was on the ball a lot. It was a big positive to see him return to the starting XI even if he wasn’t tested all that much.

In Ligue 1, Nicholas Gioacchini played the final 22 minutes for Montpellier in a 1-0 win over relegation battling Clermont Foot. Playing right wing, he had just nine touches but was aggressive in trying to get the ball forward.

In the Austrian Bundesliga, Brenden Aaronson was not expected to play for Red Bull Salzburg as it was hoped he could rest ahead of the Champions League this week. The runaway leaders found themselves trailing 1-0 at the hour mark and Aaronson came into the game in the 63rd minute. Salzburg ended up rallying for a 2-1 win. While Aaronson was not directly part of either of the goals, he helped his team keep up pressure to earn the win – which kept them 12 points ahead of 2nd place Wolfsberger.

In the Scottish Premiership, Cameron Carter-Vickers returned to the starting lineup for Celtic on Saturday against Ian Harkes and Dundee United. Carter-Vickers missed the last game due to “personal issues.” Carter-Vickers ended up having a very good game and picked up a rare assist in a 3-0 win. Hakres was good for Dundee United but his club was simply overmatched.


Notes from elsewhere


In the Danish Cup, Emmanuel Sabbi started and played 63 minutes for OB Odense in a 2-0 away win over Randers. Christian Cappis played the final 13 minutes for Brondby in a 2-0 home loss to Midtjylland.

In the Austrian Bundesliga, Thomas Roberts was an unused sub for Austria Klagenfurt in a 1-0 away win over TSG Tirol.

On Monday, Joel Sonora and Banfield will visit Newell’s Old Boys. Johnny Cardoso and Internacional will host Atletico MG.  Shaq Moore and Tenerife will visit Cartagena.

Finally, a big congratulations for Duane Holmes who had a very good reason to miss Huddersfield’s 1-1 draw with Barnsley on Saturday.


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