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How Many Americans Have Managed in The Premier League?
American players are becoming more common in the Premier League, but it's been harder for U.S. coaches to make their mark.
Since the dawn of the Premier League in 1992, Americans have often struggled to make their mark. Of course, there are stars like Tim Howard, Brian McBride, Clint Dempsey and Brad Friedel, who all carved out respectable, if not exceptional, careers in England's top flight. But there's traditionally been a dose of skepticism when a Yank arrives on the scene. That's especially true with managers. While there have been dozens of U.S.-born players to grace Premier League pitches, there have been just three American managers calling the shots at a top English club. And after Wisconsin-born Jesse Marsch got the sack from Leeds earlier this week, there are currently no American managers in the league.
Here's a look at the lucky few who tried to make their mark.
After some early success in the MLS, Bob Bradley managed the national teams for both the United States and Egypt before getting a shot in Europe with La Havre in France and Stabaek in Norway. Then, in 2016, he answered the call and made the leap to Swansea in the Premier League. That was one call he probably should’ve ignored, as he survived just 11 games before he was sacked two days after Christmas. His short-lived career ended with a paltry record of two wins, two draws and seven losses.
He went on to be the first head coach for Los Angeles FC of the MLS, helming the club from 2017 into 2021. He's currently head coach and sporting director of Toronto FC.
Wagner’s entry into the football scene was a peculiar one. He was born in Germany, represented Germany on the under-21 national level, but he decided to switch his allegiance to the United States, having been raised on Uncle Sam’s turf. Maybe his experience with the former was his secret formula because Wagner faired significantly better in the Premier League than Bradley. After managing Borussia Dortmund from 2011-2015, Wagner took the helm of Huddersfield Town, then plying their trade in England's second tier Championship division, in 2015. He guided them to Premier League promotion in 2017 and managed the seemingly herculean task of keeping them up the next season. He even won the August Manager of the Month award in his first month managing in EPL after guiding the Terriers to two victories without conceding a goal and one draw. The success was short-lived. In January 2019, with Huddersfield in the Premier League's basement, manager and club parted ways. Wagner left with a record of 11 wins, 15 draws and 34 losses.
However, he's currently leading Norwich City in the EFL Championship, so maybe a return trip to the Premier League isn't out of the question.
Prior to coaching, Jesse Marsch was a fundamentally sound, dependable midfielder for the Chicago Fire, D.C. United and Chivas USA, but it was as the manager of the New York Red Bulls where he found his true calling. He led the team to the MLS Supporters’ Shield in 2015, earning him the MLS Coach of the Year award. During his splashy tenure with the Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg, beginning in June 2019, Marsch secured consecutive doubles – winning both the domestic league title as well as the Austrian Cup. He'd move on in 2021 to Red Bull Leipzig in Germany's Bundesliga, though his tenure at the club lasted just 17 games. Marsch entered the Premier League as Leeds United’s new manager, replacing Marcelo Bielsa in February 2022, but despite the high hopes, he could never really generate much forward momentum. This season, the Peacocks have hovered dangerously close to the relegation zone – the last time they were relegated, it took Leeds 16 years to claw its way back into the league. So after their loss to Nottingham Forest on Sunday Marsch's fate was sealed. He was let go.
Ironically, Marsch’s expulsion comes just on the heels of a record-breaking $60 million shopping spree during the January transfer window that landed USMNT star Weston McKennie on loan from Juventus to play alongside fellow American midfielder's Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson. So even though he's no longer at the helm, a distinctive "stars and stripes" feel remains at the club.
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