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UCL AT HALF: Marsch’s Salzburg rolling; Champions holding firm; Chelsea’s Mount hurt

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We’ve got news after 45 minutes of six more UCL matches, including a big injury at Stamford Bridge and a monumental start for an American in Austria.

[ UCL: Scores, lineups, stats, box scores ]

Chelsea 0-0 Valencia

No goals to report here, but early season hero Mason Mount has left the match with an injury for the Blues. He was not replaced by Christian Pulisic, rather Pedro.

Liverpool 0-0 Napoli

It’s been a pretty even affair, though Liverpool can thank Adrian for a pair of great saves on Dries Mertens before Hirving “Chucky” Lozano’s goal was ruled offside.

Red Bull Salzburg 5-1 Genk

Jesse Marsch is now officially the first American man to manage a team in a UEFA Champions League game.

The Red Bull Salzburg boss is also the first to hold a second minute lead, as red hot striker Erling Braut Haland scored his 15th, 16th, and 17th goals in nine matches under Marsch.

Haland also five assists on the season, having entered Tuesday’s match with 658 minutes across all competitions.

Haland is the son of former Leeds, Man City, and Nottingham Forest manager Alf-Inge Haland.

Hwang-Hee Chan has Salzburg’s other goal, and two assists.

Elsewhere

Inter Milan 1-1 Slavia Prague — RECAP
Lyon 1-1 Zenit Saint-Petersburg
Borussia Dortmund 0-0 Barcelona
Ajax 1-0 Lille
Benfica 0-0 RB Leipzig

So far, so great for American coach Marsch with Red Bull Salzburg

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The American manager has had an interesting ride in recent seasons. Bob Bradley got short-shrift at Swansea City and is bossing MLS with LAFC. Gregg Berhalter serially overachieved at Columbus and is now taking his lumps with the USMNT.

There’s something to be said about David Wagner at Huddersfield Town and Schalke, but the former USMNT striker’s background is almost exclusively German (there’s nothing wrong with that, but it makes for a lousy case study).

So we’ve made a note to keep an eye on Jesse Marsch’s early season as the ex-New York Red Bulls coach takes the reigns at Red Bull Salzburg.

After all, the perennial Austrian contenders sold five players with eight-figure price tags, including Israel’s Munas Dabbur and a quartet of Germany-bound players.

Marsch did not leave the U.S. as a player or coach, aside from international duty and one year with Montreal, until he left RBNY for an assistant’s job with RB Leipzig last season with a view to this gig.

The Austrian league sits just below the Netherlands in UEFA coefficient, and Salzburg is a rich club in the league but the situation was far from a, “Hey kid, here are the keys. Don’t drive into a lake.”

So far, so great.

Salzburg is 6-0 to start the league campaign, and has scored 27 goals while conceding just four.

He’s been helped by 19-year-old Molde transfer Erling Braut Håland, who has scored a remarkable 11 goals with three assists in seven games. Haland made his Norwegian national team debut on Thursday.

Marsch will manage against Genk, Liverpool, and Napoli in the UEFA Champions League this season and, at 45, could be on the pathway to an even bigger gig.

Kevin Danso signs for Southampton

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16 hours after the summer transfer window shut, Southampton have their man.

Due to a delay over international clearance and paperwork, Saints had to wait until the morning after the window shut to announce the signing of Austrian international Kevin Danso.

The 20-year-old initially joins on a season-long loan from Bundesliga side Augsburg and Saints have an exclusive option to buy the center back/defensive midfielder next summer.

Born in Austria, Danso moved to England as a youngster and came through the ranks at MK Dons’ academy before moving to Germany. He is happy to be back in the UK.

“I’m delighted to join a club that has produced a lot of great players. I’m ready for the challenge and really excited to get started, and also to get to know the fans and the rest of the lads too,” Danso said. “I’m looking forward to working with such a great coach in Ralph Hasenhuttl as well. He has produced a lot of young players and showed a huge amount of belief in them, so I hope I can be another one who can benefit from him. It’s a great opportunity for me to show what I can do. Southampton is a great club, the manager is a great coach, and I’m really looking forward to the opportunity.”

Danso fits Saints’ needs perfectly. It is believed he will primarily play as a center back and his no-nonsense style of play will strengthen Southampton’s defensive unit. Alongside Jan Bednarek, Janik Vestergaard and Maya Yoshida, he will battle for one of the three center back slots in Saints’ 5-3-2 system.

Hasenhuttl revealed it was imperative Saints strengthened their defense which leaked 65 goals last season.

“We have made some good additions in our attack during the transfer window, with Che Adams and Moussa Djenepo, and, like them, Kevin is another signing that fits our model of being a talented, young player who adds quality to our first-team squad. He will improve our defensive options, so this is an excellent way for us to finish our business,” Hasenhuttl added.

Southampton are moving back to their model of signing young, hungry players and dangling the carrot of regular PL minutes in front of them. We all know that the likes of Sadio Mane, Virgil Van Dijk and Victor Wanyama have gone on to great things after leaving Saints, and Hasenhuttl will be hoping Adams, Djenepo and now Danso can follow in their footsteps.

Overall, a solid window for Southampton was just made a lot better thanks to a much-needed defensive reinforcement.

USMNT drops six more spots in latest FIFA rankings

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The United States men’s national team has dropped to No. 30 in the world ahead of the 2019 Gold Cup, though we can all admit that feels a bit generous right now.

[ MORE: Gold Cup predictions ]

The Yanks fell six spots in the latest FIFA Rankings, 12 below Mexico and nine ahead of Costa Rica. It’s the biggest drop of any nation in the Top 50, though Greece dropped nine spots to sit 52nd.

The 30 marker is six spots higher than its lowest ranking since the system began in 1993. The Yanks are 39th overall in Elo Ratings.

Belgium remains world No. 1, with France, Brazil, and England next. Portugal climbs into fifth.

Austria (26th) is up 8 spots, Czech Republic (41st) goes up 7 places, and Hungary (42nd) is up 9.

Jesse Marsch to take charge of Red Bull Salzburg

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Jesse Marsch has completed the hat trick. He is moving on to his third Red Bull club.

The former New York Red Bulls head coach has spent the 2018-19 season as an assistant at RB Leipzig in the German Bundesliga, and now he is heading to the Austrian Bundesliga to manage Red Bull Salzburg on a three-year contract.

[ MORE: Latest USMNT news ]

Marsch, 45, will take charge of Salzburg from next season and the former U.S. men’s national team and MLS stalwart will have one of the best jobs an American coach has ever had in world soccer.

“I am really pleased and feel honored to be able to work for this fantastic club as their next coach. I will give everything to further continue the extremely successful work here,” Marsch said. “That is going to be a new challenge for me, and I can’t wait for it. I still have a lot to do with RB Leipzig until then to finish the season in the best possible way. I am concentrating completely on that before my new role at FC Red Bull Salzburg starts.”

Sporting Director Christoph Freund added that Salzburg have “followed Marsch’s career and development very closely in recent years” and that they are “completely convinced of him both as a professional and as a person. He knows our philosophy and way of playing football very well.”

There is no doubt that Marsch has landed a very decent job, and the way he transformed the fortunes of the New York Red Bulls in MLS (a Supporters’ Shield and Coach of the Year award in 2015 the highlight) shows he deserves it. His work to develop young players has been particularly impressive, and Salzburg have a record of improving and selling on plenty of talented youngsters such as Sadio Mane and Kevin Kampl. Salzburg’s link with Leipzig is a close one, and if Marsch excels in Austria, there is a strong possibility he could head back to Germany to take charge of Leipzig in the future.

As for Salzburg, they reached the semifinals of the UEFA Europa League last season and the last 16 this season, while they are currently top of the table in Austria and if they win the title they will be in the UEFA Champions League playoff round next season.

Many believed Marsch should have been a leading candidate for the USMNT head coaching job during its recent vacancy, but it always seemed like he was more focused on making waves in club management in Europe.

With this job at Salzburg, he certainly has the chance to do that.