Over 5,000 miles and an ocean away from Banc of California Stadium, Jesse Marsch is about as far removed as you can get from MLS Cup 2022.
Still, the Leeds United head coach remains emotionally connected to the league where he emerged as one of American soccer's highest-profile managers. He's also particularly close to this final as two of his closest friends and fellow head coaches, Steve Cherundolo and Jim Curtin, are set to face each other in Saturday's clash between LAFC and the Philadelphia Union (4 pm ET | FOX, Univision in US; TSN, TVA Sports in Canada).
"My mind says LAFC but my heart, probably in this moment, says Philly," Marsch revealed, not without declaring his admiration for both clubs.
"These are two very good friends of mine," he said. "If I were to pick two current coaches who are my best, the guys that I'm closest with, I would think it would be these two guys."
And while Marsch praised Cherundulo's Supporters' Shield-winning campaign in his first season in charge of the Black & Gold, the work Curtin -- his former teammate at Chivas USA -- has done over the years in Philadelphia was the deciding factor.
"Steve is new in his coaching career, and Jimmy's put a lot into it," he explained. "I would probably like to see Jimmy get one this time."
"... Sorry Stevie. I love you, brother," he added.
Leeds are back in Premier League action on Saturday when they host Bournemouth at 11 am ET, which should allow Marsch to tune into MLS Cup in time for kickoff - scheduled for 4:05 ET at the Banc.
The full Jesse Marsch interview with Extratime will come out next week. Watch the latest episode here.