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Jesse Marsch lands Canada coaching job ahead of this summer’s Copa America and 2026 FIFA World Cup as co-hosts

Former Premier League tactician Jesse Marsch was named head coach of the Canadian men’s national team on Monday. The American joins Canada Soccer in time for June’s Copa America on U.S. soil with a contract that will keep him at the helm through the 2026 World Cup co-hosted by Canada, Mexico and the United States.

Marsch’s first games in charge of Canada will be their June friendlies against the Netherlands and France, followed by the Copa America. Canada will play reigning champions Argentina in the tournament’s opening match on June 20 in Atlanta before wrapping up their group stage campaign against Peru in Kansas City and Chile in Orlando.

This marks Marsch’s first managerial role since February 2023, when he was fired by Leeds United after a year on the job and shortly before they were relegated from the Premier League. Since then, he has been a co-host for Call it What You Want on CBS Sports Golazo Network, which focuses on all things USMNT. 

Marsch is one of the most high-profile American managers in the men’s game, with a spell with Red Bull Salzburg and time as an assistant at RB Leipzig raised his profile before his move to England. He began his coaching career as an assistant to the U.S. men’s national team and was part of the staff that made the round of 16 at the 2010 World Cup, and then moved to MLS gigs at CF Montreal and the New York Red Bulls.

Marsch was in the mix to become the USMNT head coach last year, when U.S. Soccer was interviewing candidates for the role. The federation ultimately opted to re-hire Gregg Berhalter after he led the team to a round of 16 finish at the 2022 World Cup.

It marks the end of Canada’s months-long search for a new head coach. John Herdman left the post in August after a five-year spell in charge that included the 2022 World Cup, the first time Canada qualified for the tournament in 36 years. Herdman maximized the potential of a talented young squad in order to qualify for Qatar but exited the competition in the group stage with three losses as Canada was outscored seven to two in three games.

Canada Soccer’s unique financing

Marsch will officially be known as the MLS Canada men’s national team head coach, a reference to the fact that the owners of MLS’ three Canadian teams — Montreal, Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps — made philanthropic contributions to the program. Other private donors have also contributed as part of a new major gifts program that will be available for all of Canada Soccer’s national teams.

It’s a notable development amidst financial troubles at the governing body. The last year and change have been marred by a financial scandal at Canada Soccer that is ongoing and centers on a deal they signed with a private company called Canada Soccer Business (CSB). CSB acquired the rights to sell broadcasting and sponsorship rights for Canada Soccer from 2019 to 2027, all in exchange for an annual fee that rises to $2.56 million in 2027, according to TSN. Canada Soccer’s murky finances have led to budget cuts and restructures in recent years, and as a result labor disputes from both the men’s and women’s national teams ahead of their respective World Cups in 2022 and 2023.

The deal between Canada Soccer and CSB has also been the focus of hearings in Canada’s parliament, while the union representing players on the women’s national team filed a lawsuit against 15 past and present members of Canada Soccer’s board in relation to the deal.

Herdman himself was critical of Canada Soccer’s financial constraints, and argued that the federation is squandering its best generation of talent shortly after losing to the USMNT in the Concacaf Nations League final last June.

“We’ve got the best generation of players we’ve had, and there’s more coming,” he said, according to Sportsnet. “[But] we’ve got to figure this out financially. We’ve got to get serious about winning a World Cup. When you play at home you get a chance to win it. You get a chance to get to a quarterfinals and then get on that road to win. And we’re not serious. We’ve brought a World Cup to our country and we’re not serious about winning it.”

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