Leeds United have avoided Premier League relegation on the 2021-22 season’s final matchday, thanks in large part to Major League Soccer alums Jesse Marsch and Jack Harrison.
The storied English club beat Brentford, 2-1, on Sunday behind a 94th-minute goal from Harrison, who spent the 2016-17 MLS campaigns at New York City FC.
That put the Whites on 38 points and in 17th place, finishing one spot above Burnley and staying clear of a slide back into the Championship (second division). Meanwhile, Burnley lost 2-1 to Newcastle United and finished in the drop zone at 18th place on 35 points.
Marsch, a former New York Red Bulls and CF Montréal manager, took over Leeds on Feb. 28 and steered them to a 4W-5L-3D record after the club parted ways with longtime manager Marcelo Bielsa.
Marsch’s side took four of six points from their final two games, which was just enough after three straight losses to Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City (eventual title-winners). They also went 3W-0L-2D during a six-week span this spring, climbing the Premier League table.
Before heading to Leeds, Marsch was in charge of German Bundesliga side RB Leipzig and Austrian Bundesliga side Red Bull Salzburg. While at RBNY, he helped steer two MLS Supporters’ Shield-winning sides before departing in the summer of 2018.
Harrison was the No. 1 pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft and signed with Manchester City in January 2018 after thriving on the wing at NYCFC under now-Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira. He had eight goals in 35 Premier League matches this season, his fourth with the club.
More MLS coming?
They’re poised to be joined by another MLS product in the 2022-23 Premier League season, with MLSsoccer.com’s Tom Bogert reporting that US men’s national team midfielder Brenden Aaronson will join Leeds from Salzburg in a deal worth around $30 million. Aaronson is a product of the Philadelphia Union’s academy, with the MLS club standing to earn another $3-6 million through a tiered sell-on clause. He played under Marsch at Salzburg, securing the Austrian double together in 2020-21.
There's also speculation that USMNT midfielder and RBNY homegrown alum Tyler Adams could join them at Leeds United next year. Adams has seen playing time diminish at Leipzig this year, with minutes at a premium entering a World Cup year. Marsch gave Adams his debut at RBNY.
Further, Leeds have been linked with CF Montréal and USMNT midfielder Djordje Mihailovic. A deal doesn't seem imminent on that front, but there's certainly some MLS-connected momentum building in West Yorkshire.