Jesse Marsch steps down as Impact head coach

Head coach Jesse Marsch is leaving the Montreal Impact days after the club ended its expansion season in Major League Soccer with a better-then-expected 12-16-6 record.
Jesse Marsch of the Montreal Impact directs the team agaisnt the Colorado Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on May 26, 2012 in Commerce City, Colorado. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Jesse Marsch is out as head coach of the Montreal Impact after only one season in Major League Soccer.

The shock announcement came Saturday morning, a week after the club ended its expansion season with a better-than-expected 12-16-6 record.

"This is not a dismissal or a resignation, rather an amicable parting of ways," said team president Joey Saputo, adding that Marsch and team management had differences of opinion on how the team would be run.

"Although the decision was a tough one to make, it was made mutually for the benefit of the club. We said Wednesday we were satisfied with Jesse's work and we still are. I think naming Jesse Marsch as a head coach for our first year in MLS was the right decision."

The decision to change coaches appears to have been made in recent days, as Marsch continued working with the team each day and no one gave any indication he would not be back.

Saputo said both sides agreed it was better for the team's long-term success to part ways.

Goalkeepers coach Preston Burpo and conditioning coach Adam Rotchstein were also axed.

Assistant coaches Mike Sorber, Mauro Biello and Denis Hamlett will remain with the team and share coaching duties when the team leaves Monday for a pair of friendly matches against Serie A clubs in Italy.

Sporting director Nick De Santis said the club will take its time deciding on the new head coach and would consider the remaining assistants for the job.

The 38-year-old Marsch was signed away from an assistant coaches' job with the U.S. national team in August 2011 to lead Montreal into MLS. His experience from a long playing career in the league was put into use as the team went through the process of selecting players from the expansion draft, making trades and signing free agents.

As a rookie head coach, Marsch endured an up and down season on a team that changed drastically in personnel and style of play through the season, sparked partly by the addition of Italian veterans Marco Di Vaio and Alessandro Nesta.

Saputo declined to go into what differences of opinion existed between them, but admitted that a schism between the European and North American elements on the club "may be one reason.

"I won't say it's the only reason. You have to look at the long term process."

Marsch thanked the team and the fans and called the move "the right decision," but was guarded in his comments.

"I'm leaving the club by mutual agreement. I had several discussions with Joey and Nick on how we could make it work and the conclusion was that this amicable split is the best solution for the club going forward.

"Looking ahead, we realized that although we had the same goals, we did not share the same philosophy."

Marsch was a fiery presence on the sidelines and was fined twice and suspended one game for disputing officials' calls.

There were also questions during the season about his game management. Montreal conceded a league-worst 17 goals in the final 15 minutes of games.

But he was popular with fans and the media. He hired a French tutor before the season and by the end, granted an interview in French on a local TV station.