Jesse Marsch will take over at German soccer team Leipzig next season in one of the most prominent jobs for an American coach in European club soccer.
The Bundesliga club said Thursday that Marsch will switch from sister club Red Bull Salzburg on a two-year contract until June 2023.
Marsch will take over from Julian Nagelsmann, who agreed Tuesday to replace from Hansi Flick at Bayern Munich. Flick is expected to coach the German national team after Joachim Löw steps down following this year’s European Championship.
Marsch, a former player who made two appearances for the United States national team, was the first American to coach a team in the Champions League. He helped Salzburg win the Austrian league and cup double last season and could repeat the feat this year.
Marsch is following a well-worn path from Salzburg to Saxony. Leipzig signed Hungarian midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai from Salzburg last December in the 18th transfer between the two clubs funded by energy drink company Red Bull.
Marsch spent the 2018-19 season as an assistant coach at Leipzig under Ralf Rangnick, helping the club reach the German Cup final and finish third in the Bundesliga in 2019. The 47-year-old American previously coached the New York Red Bulls in MLS from 2015-18. He was coach of the year in 2015.
“Jesse knows the club, the city of Leipzig and, above all, the club and playing philosophy,” Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff said. “Alongside his qualities as a coach, Jesse is characterized above all by his positively ambitious style, which he uses to motivate and engage the people and around the club.”
Marsch said he was looking forward to reuniting with younger players where “I had a role in their education” during his spell as assistant coach.
“Obviously Leipzig is a team I know very, very well,” he said. “I think it’s a super group with so much quality.”
Nagelsmann said he was happy that his successor was found so quickly and he backed Marsch to continue the club’s development.
“I see how Salzburg play and I’ve heard how he worked as an assistant to Ralf (Rangnick),” Nagelsmann said. “He’s a very emotional coach with a good connection to his players.”
Leipzig is in second place in the Bundesliga and virtually assured of playing in the Champions League next season.
Marsch will be the second American coach in the German league along with Pellegrino Matarazzo, who has taken Stuttgart to 10th place in its first season since promotion.
Other American coaches who have worked in Europe’s top leagues include Bob Bradley, who had Marsch as an assistant while coaching the United States national team in 2010-11. Bradley coached then-Premier League club Swansea in 2016. Jürgen Klinsmann represented Germany as a player but was a U.S. national by the time he coached Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin in 2019-20.