The finalists for 2016 MLS Coach of the Year are here and it's a pretty obvious group of three. There's the coach of the Supporters' Shield winners and the coaches who oversaw the two biggest turnarounds in the league. Ain't that easy.
The Rapids were supposed to be competing for the title of Worst Team in MLS. Instead, they went into the final week of the season in the driver's seat for the Supporters' Shield. They finished as the second-best team in MLS and Mastroeni oversaw it all. He put together the best defense in the league and turned one of the league's laughingstocks into one of the top contenders for the MLS Cup. It's been an incredible season and he's the clear Coach of the Year frontrunner.
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All Pareja did was capture the Supporters' Shield and U.S. Open Cup. That makes him the coach with the best team from March to October, without question. Not bad. Oh, and he did it despite losing Fabian Castillo to a bizarre transfer over the summer, then finished off the Supporters' Shield with a draw on the last day after Mauro Diaz went down with an Achilles tear. All of this without high-priced signings or a star-laden squad. He put together an amazing team with youth, smart signings and a great system, then spent the year dominating American soccer with it. The only problem is he's so highly regarded and FC Dallas looked so good a year ago that most expected this from the team.
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If it wasn't for Mastroeni, Vieira would be basking in the praise as the orchestrator of the incredible turnaround. NYCFC were awful as an expansion team last season and yet still many questioned their decision to fire Jason Kreis. They simply needed time to grow before they could compete, the thinking went. Well, Vieira walked in and showed that they didn't need time. They could compete now and compete they did, finishing second in the Eastern Conference this season. Their defense is still a problem, but they scored the most goals in the league as Vieira pieced together a terrific attack to make them a force out East.