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U.S. Soccer passed on Jesse Marsch. Two years later, he’s having the last laugh

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Venezuela v Canada - CONMEBOL Copa America USA 2024
After a defeat of Venezuela, American coach Jesse Marsch has led Canada into the semifinals of the Copa America tournament. | Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

The USSF passed on the Premier League-caliber coach in 2022. He’s about take Canada into the Copa semifinals

Would the U.S. men’s national team be in the semifinals of the Copa America tournament if Jesse Marsch was manager?

It’s difficult to say really, but the argument is pretty strong considering what the highly regarded American coach was just able to do.

Let’s start with the fact that a CONCACAF nation not named the United States or Mexico has made it to the semifinals of the tournament — and if someone suggested it would be Canada, they might’ve gotten laughed off the main stage.

But here the Canadians are, just one win away from a Copa America championship appearance.

Venezuela v Canada - CONMEBOL Copa America USA 2024 Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images
Canadian captain Alphonso Davies of Canada celebrates with head coach Jesse Marsch after its win over Venezuela at AT&T Stadium on July 5.

Of course, that road is blocked as mighty Argentina stands in the way, hoping to win this tournament for the second consecutive time — still riding the wave of being world champions after winning the FIFA World Cup in Qatar in 2022. But what Marsch has been able to do with a roster not boasting the level of club talent like a U.S. or a Mexico for that matter has been beyond impressive — enough to make one wonder: what if?

Rumors have now swirled on whether or not current U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter will still have a job after the U.S.’ dismal showing at Copa, one which found them out after the Group stage following losses to Panama and Uruguay.

United States v Uruguay - CONMEBOL Copa America USA 2024 Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images
U.S. Soccer head coach Gregg Berhalter looks on as his team is moments away from losing its final Group match against Uruguay on July 1.

It’s something we know Marsch has kept close eyes on, telling reporters that while he’s “focused on what we’re doing here in Canada,” that he’s ‘disappointed with the performances and the slack of discipline,” from U.S. players in a tournament that showed the Americans are a bit of a ways away from being a world power.

But are they? Or is it just the coaching?

Many have felt that the U.S. is a locker room lost under Berhalter and now needs to be in search of someone to come in and mobilize a talented group. Just last week, the American Outlaws, U.S. Soccer’s largest supporters group wrote a letter to the federation requesting the ousting of Berhalter, claiming that “there needs to be accountability and a plan to move forward for the USMNT.”

Right now, the plan is Berhalter, as nothing official regarding plans to make a coaching switch has been announced by the U.S. Soccer Federation or Berhalter himself. He’s told reporters he believes he’s the man to lead the U.S. as the 2026 FIFA World Cup looms closer, but the most recent track record of final scores would certainly suggest otherwise.

The United States captured the CONCACAF Nations League title following a 2-0 defeat of Mexico in March and tied Brazil in its final warm-up game before Copa America. But it also lost the Gold Cup semifinal to Panama in a shootout this time last year in addition to Ls in friendlies against Slovenia (1-0, Jan. 20) and that embarassing 5-1 drubbing by Colombia at FedEx Field on June 8.

Venezuela v Canada - CONMEBOL Copa America USA 2024 Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images
U.S. Soccer passed on Jesse Marsch as head coach in 2022. Since then, he’s taken Canada to the brink of a Copa America title.

It’s been a type of inconsistency that looks correctable but the summation is that it’s not as long as Berhalter is at the helm.

Would it have been under Marsch?

U.S. Soccer had a chance to find out in 2022 but chose to stick with Berhalter even after allegations — and admission — of domestic battery.

It remains to be seen whether or not choosing Marsch would have made a drastic difference, but one unlikely team and federation is playing for a chance at Copa glory, while the other looks to get back to winning ways while pondering “what’s next?” and in the case of what Marsch has accomplished with Canada, wondering “what if?”

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