2 Former MLS Stars Dramatically Save Leeds United From Relegation on Last Day of Premier League Season
The final day of the 2021-22 Premier League football season was among the most exciting in recent memory. At the top of the table, Manchester City brought back memories of 2012, coming from two goals down to steal the title from Liverpool. And at the opposite end of the table, Leeds United kept itself in the Premier League in dramatic fashion, thanks to two former Major League Soccer (MLS) stars, Jesse Marsch and Jack Harrison.
Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch and forward Jack Harrison both come from MLS
Leeds United came into the final Matchday of the Premier League season in the third and final relegation spot. The club needed to find a way to gain a point on Burnley. If it didn’t, Leeds would spend the 2022-23 season down in the lower level EFL Championship league.
Leeds faced 13th-place Brentford on the last day of the season. And two former MLS stars would play major roles in this match.
First and foremost, Leeds manager is American Jesse Marsch. The Wisconsin native and former Princeton Tigers soccer player started his career in MLS. D.C. United drafted the midfielder in 1996, and Marsch spent the next 14 seasons playing for D.C., Chicago Fire, and Chivas USA.
After he retired in 2010, Marsch started his coaching career in MLS. He spent seven years coaching the Montreal Impact and New York Red Bulls at the highest level in the States. Then, he moved to Red Bull Salzburg in Austria followed by RB Leipzig in Germany.
In February of 2022, Leeds United fired manager Marcelo Bielsa and appointed Marsch to run the club for the final 12 games of the season.
One of the players on Leeds who Marsch now manages is English winger Jack Harrison. The Bolton native started his professional career with NYCFC in MLS. During his two seasons in the Bronx, Harrison made 61 appearances and notched 14 goals and 10 assists.
This promising start led NYCFC’s parent club, Manchester City, to buy Harrison for $4.4 million. After several loan spells, including one to Leeds, his current club bought him from City for $14.08 million.
Harrison scored the goal that kept Leeds in the Premier League
On Saturday, May 22, 2022, every Premier League match kicked off at 11 A.M. EST. To stay at the top level of English football, Jesse Marsch, Jack Harrison, and Leeds United needed to beat Brentford, and they needed help in the Burnley vs. Newcastle match.
Newcastle did its part early, jumping out to a 1-0 lead on a 20th-minute Callum Wilson penalty and bringing it to 2-0 with another Wilson goal in the 60th. However, Burnley’s Maxwel Cornet netted one for his side in the 69th-minute to give them a chance.
In Brentford, Leeds took a 1-0 lead in the 56th-minute with a Rafina penalty. However, Sergi Canós tied it up in minute 78 with a goal that could relegate Leeds if Burnley could get even.
Ultimately, Burnley never found a second goal, and a 1-1 draw would have kept Leeds up. To be safe, though, Jack Harrison blasted home a game-winner four minutes into stoppage time to give his side the win and ensure they’d have another season of Premier League football.
Pretty good for two guys who started their careers in MLS.
All stats courtesy of Transfermrkt