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Coaching carosel

Sitting here watching Liverpool play for their Champions League lives against Besitkas (mmmm....Cola Turka.)

Bear with me, of course, my right arm is about to fall off after finally mastering "Raining Blood" (ah, wholesome music for the whole family) on Guitar Hero III. God lord, if I live to be 65 my hand is going to be a gnarled hook. Then again, by then we'll either have bionics, and or global heating will have killed us all. So it's a win-win scenario.

Considering the other day I took the mainstream media to task for lack of MLS coverage, figured it only makes sense to offer some of that analysis myself.

Monday could possibly turn into one of the more important days for the league. The MLS' two (would-be) marquee franchises -- Los Angeles and Red Bull New York -- both fired/got rid of/resigned/moved their coaches. Frank Yallop made the wise move to escape the Beckhamania in Hollywood for the reborn Earthquakes. Meanwhile, Bruce Arena -- who at one point was the standard bearer for MLS coaches -- resigned/was fired after another subpar playoff from the New York franchise.

Why this is important is simple.

MLS likes to recycle more than Al Gore...well its coaches anyway.

Considering the deep pockets of both AEG and Red Bull, logic would dictate both franchises would like to opt for 'big name' coaches, by luring them with boatloads of cash. Naturally the sun and the stars of Southern California should aid the Galaxy attract some sort of 'name.' On the other hand, any coach worth his salt would try to avoid the coaching graveyard that is Northern New Jersey. (Could Tony Soprano doppleganger Martin Jol be lured to the land of Satriales? He certainly knows how to blow through piles of money.)

On the West Coast, two names will float through the rumor mill -- Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klinsmann. While it's fun to speculate, these are extreme long shots. AEG would certainly need to blow either one of these guys away with a truckload of cash. Hell, Steve McClaren might be available in a couple days, too.

Regardless, it would behoove MLS to inject some new blood into the coaching ranks. At times the league can be stale, simply since the same names seem to shuffle throughout the league.

During the 2007 season, seven of the league's 13 teams were managed by men who had previously coaches in the league. This obviously happens in any sports league, but with such a small sample size, MLS could use the new blood.

Since it's inception in 1996, MLS has employed eight coaches who've plied their trade at multiple franchises.

* Bob Bradley -- Chicago, Metrostars, Chivas USA
* Thomas Rongen -- Tampa Bay, New England, DC United
* Sigi Schmid -- Galaxy, Crew
* Octavio Zambrano -- Galaxy, Metrostars
* Bruce Arena -- DC United, RBNY
* Ray Hudson -- Miami, DC United
* Fernando Clavijo -- New England, Colorado
* Mo Johnston -- RBNY, Toronto FC

(Probably some omissions, considering my overall sloppiness. Feel free to chime in.)

Granted, MLS faces an uphill battle. The coaching pool is relatively small. Unlike other sports, moving to the NCAA ranks is a completely different animal with soccer. That leaves a very small pool of possible candidates, considering most international coaches with any pedigree would rather not coach in the single-entity structure of the league.

Plus, it's not good that the majority of MLS coaches seem to have been reared in 1980s/early 90s English football. Sure these guys know workrate, but aesthetically pleasing soccer? MLS players are fit and run, but things like first-touch and one-touch football are sorely lacking. (On a side note, one of my pet peeves is that in America, on the youth level, that so many parents and administrators simply think the presence of an English accent qualify someone as a coach. This kick-and-run shit sucks.)

[Reader reminded me, I failed to note Juan Carlos Osorio's hire by the Fire as a new coach to the league. Had it in my notes, just forget. Again, sloppy on me.]

Things might improve as the first wave of MLS players retires and become eligible coaching candidates. Guys like John Harkes, Cobi Jones, etc. could make a lasting impact on the league from the coaching box.

Back to my man Bruce. Admittedly, he did not do a good job in New York at all. He shuffled players way too quickly and the Claudio Reyna move was a total disaster. That said, there is only one move for the winningest coach in American soccer -- the broadcast booth.

ESPN should immediately call Arena's agent and get him on-board for the MLS Cup final on ABC in a couple weeks. Ideally the 'Worldwide Leader' would dump Tommy Smyth and Eric Wynalda and replace the unruly three-man booth with Arena and preferably Rob Stone. Throw Wynalda back in the studio, his opinions are just too unruly and unfocused during a broadcast. Smyth, by all accounts is a nice guy, but just because he has an accent doesn't qualify him.

In limited work, Arena has shown a capacity to analyze a game in a manner that improves the broadcast. He may be acerbic and sarcastic, but he does know the American game.

Let's just hope that New York, Los Angeles and whoever else gets a new coach looks for newer, fresher faces. It can only help the league grow.

Anyway, in closing: Yossi, Yossi, Yossi.

... Rosenberg? Are you fjord-king kidding me?!

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2 Responses to “Coaching carosel”

  1. # Blogger vince

    reading this, one name immediately came to mind:

    juan carlos osorio

    seems like he's the semi-antithesis of your MLS manager archetype (confusing, i know):

    -retread: nope, although he was assistant with the metrostars at one point.
    -80s/90s EPL: nope, was assistant at citeh but not until 2001-2006.
    -english accent: nope, he's columbian.

    now, admittedly, the fire aren't going to surpass arsenal on the aesthetically-pleasing scale anytime soon. but they're a damn sight better now than they were six months ago. and maybe his different coaching style has something to do with their recent run of good form? anyway, i think you have to give credit to the fire front office for thinking (at least a little bit) outside the box.

    i have no idea about this, but are there any other guys out there with a little MLS playing/assistant coaching experience but with a more technically sound background, from say argentina or spain? (isn't valderrama an assistant down in south america?) RBNY might want to find out.  

  2. # Blogger Cardillo

    You know, I wrote Osorio's name down in my notes, but failed to note him in the post. Good point there on the Fire.  

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