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'Who are our leaders?' - Marsch critical of U.S. Soccer after 'disgusting' USWNT statements

22:48 GMT 19/03/2020
Jesse Marsch, RB Salzburg
The RB Salzburg boss became the latest American to take aim at the federation's handling of the equal pay lawsuit

Red Bull Salzburg boss Jesse Marsch became the latest high-profile figure in American soccer to criticize U.S. Soccer, calling out the federation for a lack of leadership in the wake of "disgusting" comments about the U.S. women's national team.

U.S. Soccer came under fire recently after published court documents that stated the federation's' stance that the USWNT inherently have less skill and responsibility than their U.S. men's national team counterparts.

Those statements led to the eventual resignation of president Carlos Cordeiro, who stepped down last week following a series of public criticisms from the likes of Megan Rapinoe, Don Garber, Abby Wambach and Michelle Akers as well as a number of U.S. Soccer sponsors.

“It’s been a source of pride for all of us Americans that these women are so good. They’re the best in the world, and frankly they’re heroes,” Marsch told Sports Illustrated.

“And then to see the lawsuit, it’s saddening and disgusting - first that there’s been a group of lawyers who...have only thought so much about winning the case that they’ve lost perspective on what this group of women has done for people in our country. And to refer to them that way, to speak about them that way, I think is a total lack of respect and intelligence.

“What’s more egregious is when I heard there were people in Soccer House [U.S. Soccer’s headquarters] that hadn’t read what the lawsuit was going to be, and maybe there are people who did and they allowed for that discourse to happen. For me it’s a total lack of leadership, a total lack of judgment. For me, it’s frankly disgusting.

“Where are the leaders in our federation? Where are the leaders in our sport? How can we, especially after failing to make the [men’s] World Cup, now allow this to happen? I mean, I am a coach, but more so I’m a fan of U.S. Soccer. And believe me, this has nothing to do with [USMNT coach] Gregg Berhalter.

"This has nothing to do with my desire to be the national team coach. This is a bigger question of: Who are our leaders and who is going to take the federation from here? And who can we trust to actually now help the sport in our country become what we all want it to be?”

With Cordeiro's resignation, former USWNT midfielder and former U.S. Soccer vice president Cindy Parlow Cone has stepped into the role as president. Among the tasks that lie ahead for her are that ongoing equal pay lawsuit as well as the appointment of a CEO, a position that has been open for some time.

Marsch has some suggestions when it comes to that hire and others within the federation, as he pointed to former USWNT boss Jill Ellis as someone that U.S. Soccer needs to keep on board.

“I was in the U.S. pro [license] course with Jill Ellis, and I consider Jill Ellis a friend, and I think she's an amazing person and coach,” Marsch said.

“For me she was the most impressive candidate in the entire course. And when we would discuss the future of U.S. Soccer...my basic feeling was, forget about the actual X's and O's and what's going on the field right now. What we need are people who can stand in front of the U.S. Soccer community right now and lead.

“And that's from the CEO of U.S. Soccer, the women's coach, the men's coach, the GM, whatever positions you want to create. But we need a group of people that can stand in front of the U.S. Soccer community and make us believe that we're working together, that we believe in each other and that we're all in it together.

“Because I worked for U.S. Soccer under Bob Bradley, and it was very divisive at that time. And it's only gotten worse. And this is from a fan base perspective. This is from a leadership perspective, this is from a player pool perspective across the board. For me, that is the first step. Who are those people? Well, what we're learning more is who those people aren't.”

Marsch has long been considered a candidate for USMNT head coach and has been thriving since taking over at RB Salzburg.

The former New York Red Bulls coach helped make the Austrian side one of the Champions League group stage's biggest stories, with stars Erling Haaland and Takumi Minamino earning big moves based on their performances.

“This is not a campaign to be the national team coach or the GM or anything,” Marsch said. “But the one thing that I would take very seriously if I were in any of these roles is how can I unite the football community in the USA?

"How can I use this platform to unite U.S. Soccer, club soccer, academies, MLS, youth national teams, men's, women's, everything combined? Because the only chance we have to really tap into our potential is if everybody believes in a common purpose and everybody works together.”