Americans in the Premier League as Jesse Marsch heads to Leeds

Bob Bradley drove Swansea players MAD during 85-day disaster, David Wagner was adored at Huddersfield and Friedel, Howard and Dempsey prospered, but who remembers Preki or Cobi? Americans in the Premier League as Jesse Marsch takes charge at Leeds

  • Jesse Marsch is the new manager of Leeds after they sacked Marcelo Bielsa
  • He is just the third American to manage a club in the Premier League 
  • Bob Bradley lasted just 85 days at Swansea during rocky 2016-17 season
  • Former US international David Wagner brilliantly kept Huddersfield in top-flight
  • There have been 49 American players to turn out in the Premier League 
  • Some have been immensely successful but others had more forgettable stints 

Jesse Marsch is the man tasked with keeping Leeds United in the Premier League after the Yorkshire club sacked Marcelo Bielsa last weekend.

The 48-year-old became only the third American to manage in England’s top-flight, taking charge of his first game yesterday as his side lost at Leicester. 

Marsch lasted only 21 games at RB Leipzig in Germany earlier this season, winning just eight and losing nine of them, but must now revive a Leeds team that has conceded 21 times in their last six outings to leave them just two points above the drop.

Leeds manager Jesse Marsch is the third American coach to come to the Premier League

Marsch took charge of his first game yesterday as his side lost narrowly at Leicester City 

The list of American coaches to have come to the Premier League is pretty tiny but the number of players to have made the transatlantic leap is much larger.

We take a look at some of the US success stories in England and others who weren’t up to it.


Bob Bradley

Swansea City were in a real mess when Bob Bradley – the coach whose US team finished ahead of England in their 2010 World Cup group – was appointed to replace Italian Francesco Guidolin in October 2016.

The French second division side Le Havre isn’t your typical recruiting ground for a Premier League manager but that’s where Bradley was plucked from amid inevitable suspicion that Swansea’s American owners Jason Levien and Steve Kaplan picked him purely based on nationality.

The Swansea supporters’ trust, who owned a 21 per cent stake in the club, were angry at not being consulted over the appointment and things took a bizarre twist on day one when Guidolin turned up for a separate meeting at the same hotel where Bradley was being unveiled to the press.

Bob Bradley was quickly found to be out of his depth during a short 85-day stint in charge

Results on the pitch were a complete disaster and he lasted just 85 days, having won just twice in 11 games, losing seven of them. In that time, Swansea conceded 29 times, more than anyone else in the division, with a 5-0 thumping at Tottenham the low point.

Bradley’s use of Americanisms like ‘PK’ [penalty kick] and ‘road match’ [away fixture] grated with supporters and striker Borja Baston said afterwards he ‘drove the team mad’ by trying to make wholesale changes all at once.

A 4-1 home defeat to West Ham on Boxing Day proved the final straw as fans made their feelings known and Bradley was replaced by Paul Clement, who guided Swansea to the safety of 15th.

Bradley has since managed Los Angeles FC and is now with another MLS club, Toronto.

Bradley gets a close-up of the action during what turned out to be his final match in charge

David Wagner

Though Wagner was born and raised in Germany and spent his entire playing career there, he represented the United States eight times because of his American stepdad.

As a coach, he steered Huddersfield Town into the Premier League for the first time in the 2016-17 season, beating Reading on penalties in the Championship play-off final.

Wagner then defied all odds and expectations to keep the Terriers in the top-flight at the end of the following season, a feat widely hailed by pundits and the press.

Huddersfield had one of the smaller budget in the Championship let alone the top-flight but Wagner invested £40m into his squad shrewdly and fostered a tremendous togetherness.

David Wagner, a former US international, guided Huddersfield Town into the Premier League

David Wagner is thrown into the air in celebration after Huddersfield secured survival in 2018

Part of this was forged when Wagner took the squad on a ‘survival camp’ in the Swedish wilderness ahead of their promotion season.   

The players had to surrender their phones and personal belongings before being tasked with making fires and paddling across a lake to fetch water. 

They recorded a notable 2-1 win over Manchester United in October 2017 and also held Manchester City and Chelsea to draws late in the campaign.

Unfortunately, the miracle wasn’t to continue and Wagner left the club in January 2019 with Huddersfield rock bottom after claiming only two wins and 11 points from 22 games. His replacement, Jan Siewert couldn’t save them from the drop.

Wagner has since managed Schalke, which didn’t go very well at all, and then Swiss club Young Boys. 

Though Huddersfield’s second top-flight season ended in relegation, Wagner left a legend


49 American players have featured in the Premier League since 1992, some more memorable than others.

In terms of sheer longevity, look no further than goalkeeper Brad Friedel, who made 450 Premier League appearances for Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur over a 17-year span.

The man from Ohio holds the record for the most consecutive Premier League appearances with 310 between 2004 and 2012. He is also the oldest-ever player to turn out for Aston Villa, at 40 years and four days, and Spurs, at 42 years and 176 days.

Brad Friedel racked up 450 Premier League games for four clubs – including 310 in a row 

Forward Clint Dempsey is considered by many as the best American soccer player of all time and he more than held his own in England with 60 goals in 225 games for Fulham between 2007 and 2012, before adding a further 12 for Spurs.

Those combined 72 goals represents the best scoring return by an American in a European top division and he also helped Fulham reach the 2010 Europa League final.

Clint Dempsey celebrates one of his 60 goals for Fulham, where he was a popular figure 

American goalkeepers have always been held in high esteem in the Premier League.

Kasey Keller led the way, playing for Leicester, Tottenham, Southampton (briefly on loan) and Fulham.

Tim Howard didn’t establish himself as Manchester United’s long-term No 1 after signing for them in 2003 but played 414 matches for Everton between 2006 and 2016.

He is one of just a handful of keepers to have scored a Premier League goal, when his upfield kick against Bolton in 2012 caught a freakish gust of wind and bounced over Adam Bogdan.

In his autobiography, Howard wrote about how suffering from Tourette syndrome and OCD made him hyper-focused on the pitch.

Tim Howard came to England with Manchester United then spent a decade playing for Everton

Brad Guzan, from Illinois, played 144 Premier League games for Aston Villa.

Another popular American player, the forward Landon Donovan, had two short loan spells at Everton but longer-serving names in the Premier League included DeAndre Yedlin, Jozy Altidore, Carlos Bocanegra, Claudio Reyna and Brian McBride.

Yedlin played over 100 times in the competition for Spurs, Sunderland and then Newcastle, while forward Altidore spent time on loan at Hull before later returning to England with Sunderland.

Reyna’s time at Sunderland was interrupted by injury after they paid Rangers £2.85m to sign him but he was a popular figure at Manchester City, where he played 87 times over three-and-a-half seasons.

Californian defender Bocanegra was another who did well at Fulham between 2004 and 2008 as they established themselves in the Premier League while McBride was also part of the American enclave at Craven Cottage, playing 154 times in that same era.

Fulham’s Carlos Bocanegra feels the squeeze between Wes Brown and Wayne Rooney 

But there are many more obscure American names from the Premier League era who have been long forgotten in England.

The midfielder Preki – real name Predrag Radosavljevic – was a Belgrade-born US international plucked by Everton from the obscurity of the North American Indoor Soccer League as the Premier League began in 1992.

He was mainly a squad player in Howard Kendall’s Everton side, with 28 of his 53 Toffees appearances coming off the bench, though he did occasionally show a flash of brilliance.

US national team legend Cobi Jones rode a wave of post-World Cup excitement to Coventry City in the summer of 1994.

There was much excitement at the arrival of the cool guy with the bleach blond braided hairstyle with Coventry launching a t-shirt line with his picture on and fans singing his name to No Limit by 2 Unlimited.

US icon Cobi Jones during his time with Coventry City (left) and Everton’s Preki (right), who was one of the first American players during the post-1992 era

However, Jones was a flop in then Premier League, scoring just twice in 24 games before incoming manager Ron Atkinson sold him to Vasco da Gama in Brazil.

Others you’d be forgiven for not remembering include Maurice Edu, who made just one appearance for Stoke after signing from Rangers in 2012.

Jovan Kirovski was Manchester United’s first American-born player, joining their youth team in 1992 alongside some very talented contemporaries but never making a first-team appearance.

He did eventually play in the Premier League with Birmingham City, however, a decade later.

Defender Jonathan Spector also emerged from United’s academy, playing eight games, before establishing himself at West Ham.

Of the current American generation in the Premier League, Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic is the most prominent, with Norwich’s Josh Sargent and Man City’s Zack Steffen continuing the stateside trend.

Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic is the most high-profile American currently in the Premier League

Full list of Americans to have played in the Premier League 

Jozy Altidore – Hull City, Sunderland – 2009–10, 2013–15

DaMarcus Beasley – Manchester City – 2006–07

Carlos Bocanegra – Fulham – 2003–08

Michael Bradley – Aston Villa – 2010–11

Geoff Cameron – Stoke City – 2012–18

Bobby Convey – Reading – 2006–08

Jay DeMerit – Watford – 2006–07

Clint Dempsey – Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur – 2006–14

Landon Donovan – Everton – 2009–10, 2011–12

Maurice Edu – Stoke City – 2012–13

Benny Feilhaber – Derby County – 2007–08

Ian Feuer – West Ham United, Derby County – 1999–2000, 2001–02

Brad Friedel – Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspur – 1997–2000, 2001–14

Lynden Gooch – Sunderland – 2016–17

Brad Guzan – Aston Villa, Middlesbrough – 2008–09, 2011–17

Marcus Hahnemann – Reading, Wolverhampton Wanderers – 2006–08, 2009–11

John Harkes – Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham United, Nottingham Forest – 1992–93, 1995–96, 1998–99

Stuart Holden – Bolton Wanderers – 2009–11

Tim Howard – Manchester United, Everton – 2003–16

Emerson Hyndman – AFC Bournemouth – 2017–19

Eddie Johnson – Fulham – 2007–08, 2009–11

Jemal Johnson – Blackburn Rovers – 2004–06

Cobi Jones – Coventry City – 1994–95

Jermaine Jones – Blackburn Rovers – 2010–11

Kasey Keller – Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Southampton, Fulham – 1996–99, 2001–05, 2007–08

Jovan Kirovski – Birmingham City – 2002–04

Eddie Lewis – Fulham, Derby County – 2001–02, 2007–08

Eric Lichaj – Aston Villa – 2010–13

Matt Miazga – Chelsea – 2015–16

Brian McBride – Everton, Fulham – 2002–08

Joe-Max Moore – Everton – 1999–2002

Oguchi Onyewu – Newcastle United – 2006–07

Owen Otasowie – Wolverhampton Wanderers – 2020–21

Preki – Everton – 1992–94

Christian Pulisic – Chelsea – 2019–

Tim Ream – Bolton Wanderers, Fulham – 2011–12, 2018–19, 2020–21

Claudio Reyna – Sunderland, Manchester City – 2001–07

Antonee Robinson – Fulham – 2020–21

Josh Sargent – Norwich City – 2021–

Brek Shea – Stoke City – 2012–14

Johann Smith – Bolton Wanderers – 2006–07

Juergen Sommer – Queens Park Rangers – 1995–96

Jonathan Spector – Manchester United, Charlton Athletic, West Ham United – 2004–11

Zack Steffen – Manchester City – 2020–

Indiana Vassilev – Aston Villa – 2019–20

Roy Wegerle – Blackburn Rovers, Coventry City – 1992–95

Zak Whitbread – Norwich City – 2011–12

Danny Williams – Huddersfield Town – 2017–19 

DeAndre Yedlin – Tottenham Hotspur, Sunderland, Newcastle United – 2014–16, 2017–21

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