Jesse Marsch Hired as Montreal Impact Coach for 2012

The Montreal Impact will become the 19th MLS team next year, and today, they named the man who will lead them in their debut season: MLS original Jesse Marsch.

Marsch joined MLS in 1996, coming out of Princeton University and signing with D.C. United and coach Bruce Arena. He won the inaugural MLS Cup with the Black-and-Red, and another one in 1997, before moving on to the expansion Chicago Fire in 1998. There, he won a third MLS crown, this time under Bob Bradley, who had coached Marsch at Princeton.

Marsch would later join Chivas USA before retiring in 2009 with three MLS Cups, four U.S. Open Cups, one MLS All-Star nod, and two caps with the U.S. national team.

In February 2010, Bradley hired Marsch, 37, as an assistant with the U.S. national team.

Marsch’s hiring, and Saturday’s unveiling of the Impact’s MLS logo (see it here) got us thinking about the history of the game in the French-speaking city, and the ties that bind it to U.S. and international soccer history.

Let’s take a look:

Team: Montreal Olympique

League: NASL

Lifespan: 1971-73

Notable Players: Clive Charles, Graeme Souness

Legacy: Olympique played just three seasons in the NASL without ever making the playoffs, but the presence of Charles, future U.S. Olympic coach and architect of the excellent program at the University of Portland, and Souness, a Scottish legend, link it to both U.S. and UK soccer royalty.

Team: Montreal Manic

League: NASL

Lifespan: 1981-83

Notable Players: Tony Towers, Gordon Hill, Alan Willey

Legacy: Le Manic was a short-lived but memorable presence in the NASL, averaging 23,704 in attendance in ’81 and reaching the playoff semifinals in ’83. Towers and Hill were both capped by England in their careers, and Willey is second on the NASL all-time scoring list.

Team: Montreal Supra

League: Canadian Soccer League

Lifespan: 1987-92

Notable Players: Alex Bunbury, Christian Gourcoff

Legacy: Gourcoff is the current coach of French Ligue 1 side Lorient; Bunbury went on to play in MLS with Kansas City and his son, Teal, was the fourth pick in the 2010 SuperDraft going to….Kansas City. They are MLS’s only father-son duo to date. And Teal, after declaring for the U.S. in November 2010, has two appearances and one goal for the Nats.

MLS Originals Down to One

With last week’s announcements that former New England Revolution midfielder Steve Ralston had signed with A.C. St. Louis of the second-division NASL, and that ex-Chivas USA midfielder Jesse Marsch had ended his playing days, accepting a position on U.S. coach Bob Bradley’s national team staff, the number of players who’ve been with Major League Soccer since its inaugural season in 1996 dipped to one—D.C. United striker Jaime Moreno.

Ralston, who began his career with the Tampa Bay Mutiny, departs MLS as the league’s all-time assists leader, with 135 in 378 career games. He also scored 76 goals. He was Rookie of the Year in ’96, and won the 2007 U.S. Open Cup as well as the 2008 North American SuperLiga with the Revolution. Ralston made 36 appearances for the U.S. during his top-flight career, scoring four goals.

Marsch retires in fourth place on the league’s all-time games-played list with 321. He played for D.C. United, the Chicago Fire, and Chivas USA, and was a member of three MLS Cup–winning sides. He finishes his career with 26 goals and 35 assists, and two caps for the U.S.

Moreno joined MLS in August of 1996, scoring five goals in 16 appearances that season for United, and playing in D.C.’s 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Galaxy in MLS Cup. He would go on to win four more titles with D.C., and he enters the 2010 season as the league’s all-time leading scorer, with 131 goals in 319 MLS appearances.

Click here for more on MLS Originals.

MLS OG’s

Marsch: charter member.

With the recent retirements of Jay Heaps and Ben Olsen, it’s safe to say we are entering a generational-turnover period now that MLS, Year 14, is in the books.

It got us thinking about some of the MLS warhorses still out there, guys like C.J. Brown of Chicago. (Did you know Brown has 15 caps for the U.S. and was on the field for the Nats 1-0 upset of Argentina at RFK in 1999? He does, and he was.1) Or players such as Zach Thornton, Carey Talley, Kevin Hartman, Matt Reis, and Jimmy Conrad—dudes who have been around for a while and have seen the growth and changes up close.

How many players, for instance, are left from Major League Soccer’s inaugural season, 1996? MLS Originals, they call them at the league office—guys who’ve played in every season of the league’s existence. We dug around, and according to our research, the number is currently down to three.

They are…drumroll, please…Jesse Marsch, Jaime Moreno, and Steve Ralston.

Ante Razov was an MLS Original up until this past season, but he didn’t appear in any games in 2009, breaking his string.

Thornton is the next closest to making the cut—he joined the league in 1996, but he went on loan to Portugal in 2004. Even though he returned to MLS in September of that year, he didn’t play in any games, so he’s got a one-year gap in his record.

Moreno joined late in the inaugural season (August ’96), but he played in games and scored goals that year, and every one after it, so he makes it. (He also happens to be the league’s all-time leading scorer.)

Ralston was Rookie of the Year in 1996, and has barely missed a beat since. He’s played 35 times for the U.S.

Also pictured: David Beckham.

Marsch is one of Backpost’s favorite MLS players, all-time. He started at D.C. as a fringe player, came into his own in Chicago, and is currently a team leader at Chivas USA. He’s suited up twice for the U.S. during his 14-year pro career.

So there they are, the members of MLS’s most exclusive club, The Originals.

Did we miss anyone? Let us know in the comments.

1. We were in attendance at RFK that day, and through a ticketing snafu seated in the heart of the Argentine section. But when Earnie Stewart backheeled to Joe-Max Moore and Moore buried it for the win, we did not hold back, despite the sea of Albicelestes surrounding us. We got a plastic vuvuzela-like horn in the ear for our efforts.