6 MLS coaches navigate the 1st season with their clubs
Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid is the latest to go in a turnover of Major League Soccer coaches that started last year. While the newcomers navigate their first full seasons, a couple more are on the hot seat and another is getting international interest.
The U.S. men’s national team may also come calling for a coach from the MLS ranks.
Probably the most prominent of the “new” coaches this season is an MLS vet, Bob Bradley, who has the expansion Los Angeles FC in the playoff picture with seven games remaining.
LAFC got off to a fast start, opening the season with six road games and winning four of them, including a 1-0 victory at Seattle in the season opener. LAFC currently sits at third in the Western Conference with a 13-7-7 overall record.
Fighting for a spot in the West are the Portland Timbers, who are playing their first season under Gianni Savarese. The former New York Cosmos coach took over when Caleb Porter abruptly resigned in the offseason.
The Timbers (12-7-8) were coming off a 2-0 victory over Colorado this past weekend, which boosted the team into fifth place on the table, ahead of the Sounders.
Remi Garde is in his first season with the Montreal Impact, which let go of Mauro Biello after the team finished second-to-last in the Eastern Conference. With six games left, the Impact (11-14-3) occupy the sixth spot in the conference standings, just above the line.
The Impact should get a lift from the recent return of French center-back Zakaria Diallo, who tore his Achilles tendon before the start of season.
Brad Friedel, the former U.S. national team goalkeeper who had a 17-year club career in the Premier League, is also in the midst of his first season with the New England Revolution, who are just below the line in the East at 8-10-9, three points behind the Impact.
Former New Zealand national team coach Anthony Hudson was hired last November to take over a Rapids team that finished second-to-last in the West. Colorado (6-15-6) is again in second-to-last place, just ahead of the Earthquakes.
The Quakes also had a new coach this season, Mikael Stahre. San Jose is still struggling under the Stockholm native, but fans have something to cheer about with Chris Wondolowski closing in on Landon Donovan’s career scoring record.
Several moves have already been made so far this season: Schmid, winningest coach in Major League Soccer history, stepped down as coach of the Galaxy on Monday. Dominic Kinnear, let go by the Quakes last season, was named the interim head coach for the remainder of this year.
Jason Kreis was dismissed as coach at Orlando City in June and replaced by James O’Connor. The Lions have had trouble getting on track, and are currently in second-to-last place in the East.
Perhaps the hottest seat right now is in Chicago. Veljko Paunovic has overseen an inconsistent season with the Fire, who are at the bottom of the table in the East after finishing third the season before. Adrian Heath, meanwhile, is facing the growing ire of Minnesota United’s fanbase in his second season.
There’s also the possibility that the new U.S. team coach may come from MLS. The two names mentioned most often are Sporting Kansas City’s Peter Vermes and the Columbus Crew’s Gregg Berhalter.
GAME OF THE WEEK: MLS gets back to normal this weekend after the international break. The Galaxy will play their first game without Schmid on the road against Toronto. The Reds currently sit outside the playoff picture in the East.
Toronto will also have a big match the following Wednesday, when the team hosts the inaugural edition of Campeones Cup, what will be an annual competition featuring the champions of MLS and Mexico’s Liga MX.
The Campeones Cup pits the reigning MLS Cup champions against Tigres UANL, which won the Liga MX Campeon de Campeones.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: There was only limited MLS action last weekend because of the international break, but Sebastian Blanco earned the league’s Player of the Week honors for assists on both goals in Portland’s 2-0 victory over the Rapids.
Blanco has a career-high eight assists this season to go along with his six goals.