The USMNT project at Leeds United is over as all three players set to leave
Leeds United put their hopes of survival in the hands and feet of Marsch, McKennie, Adams and Aaronson, and now the club are in the Championship.
“Most of it comes down to how good are your players? These players have tried very hard while I’ve been here and I can’t fault their effort. But as a squad, they haven’t been good enough by the fact that they’re in the bottom three in the Premier League.”
The words of Sam Allardyce, the 4-game-long Leeds United manager echoed through the corridors of Elland Road after Leeds United’s Premier League dream, built by Marcelo Bielsa in two years after a 16-year exile from the top division, came crashing back down in flames. The club’s total of 31 points left them 19th after 38 games played in the Premier League and a future in the Championship awaits them in early August.
Last summer, Leeds went all-in on a project to supposedly continue what Bielsa had built, selecting Jesse Marsch over 39 other candidates as the person best suited to follow on from the high-intensity style that had started to leak more water than it could handle - and what a catastrophic decision that turned out to be. Marsch’s mirror of Bielsa’s tactics looked less like a misjudgement and more like a practical joke as the season wore painfully on for Leeds, with their man-to-man, possession-heavy, full-throttle attacking style replaced with a narrow, pinball, schoolyard football set of instructions that took the Premier League machine mere seconds to target and destroy.
Brenden swapped the Swiss Alps for South Leeds
With Marsch came an influx of US internationals, who showed promise at the beginning. Brenden Aaronson, signed after almost a year-long pursuit from Leeds’ sporting director, came from RB Salzburg. The midfielder moved from the Alps to Beeston for $30 million and caught the eye in his opening games with some aggressive pressing and slick movement. Things did not stay the same and Aaronson’s role in the side went from a tricky technician to a frustrating footballer who fell over a lot, eventually losing his place in the starting XI.
The Athletic have revealed that Aaronson has a release clause in his contract and that the likelihood is that it will be activated, meaning that his future will probably lie away from Leeds. Piece number one in the Marsch puzzle lasted 3 months longer than his mentor.
Weston McKennie’s permanent deal to be scrapped
The next USMNT player to flop at the club this season is Weston McKennie. The Juventus midfielder arrived on loan in January and looked, on paper, like a smart move, given that Polish international midfielder, Mateusz Klich, left for DC United (where he is currently the most creative player in the league), creating a big hole that needed to be filled.
McKennie’s sluggish coverage of the pitch and his lack of visible talent caused an already frustrated crowd to turn nasty, and the player’s lack of output, as well as strange online posts from those around him - see below for McKennie’s dad’s opinion on the Leeds fanbase next to a video of Harambe (RIP) - led fans to dislike the player’s attitude almost instantly. McKennie’s loan-to-buy option exists but Leeds will not activate it, meaning he is not going to continue in the Championship.
Tyler tried, and Leeds loved him
The last part of the USMNT failure is Tyler Adams. The captain of the national side at the World Cup, Adams is one of the few players who had won the affection of the Leeds crowd. While his on-ball capabilities might be limited, the spirit and maturity the midfielder showed meant that many fans appreciated the efforts of the player. The Athletic say his departure is “expected” and this is perhaps the only piece of the US jigsaw that Leeds United may regret not keeping hold of for the future.