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MLS Coaching Carousel

With four openings and perhaps two more on the way, here's where things stand on the MLS coaching front.....

[Read the full story behind Tom Soehn's departure from D.C. United.]

COLUMBUS: Robert Warzycha won the Supporters' Shield in his first season but is in danger of first-round elimination after leaving Guillermo Barros Schelotto on the bench in the playoff opener at RSL.
CHICAGO: Rumblings in league circles are that, unless the Fire makes a substantial playoff run, Denis Hamlett will not return next season. Preki en route?
NEW ENGLAND: Steve Nicol, the foundation of the Revs' success, has two years left on his contract and seems set to stay much longer.
D.C. UNITED: With Tom Soehn out, Richie Williams and Curt Onalfo are early front-runners. How's this for a longshot candidate: former USA defender Thomas Dooley, who coached in his native Germany years ago and lives/works in the States.
TORONTO: Chris Cummins is gone, John Carver is long gone. Perhaps a Scottish power play with Mo Johnston hiring John Spencer?
KANSAS CITY: Peter Vermes hired himself as interim coach after Onalfo's departure. From what we hear, he likes the job so much, he plans on keeping it.
NEW YORK: Williams is already in-house, but the Red Bulls apparently won't hire a coach until they find a sporting director. With a new stadium to fill and a big market to satisfy, a foreign coach might be in the works.
PHILADELPHIA: Peter Nowak passed up a chance to serve on the USA World Cup staff to lead the expansion Union. With success, will a European opportunity be far behind?

LOS ANGELES: Bruce Arena kept David Beckham and Landon Donovan happy while successfully rebuilding and reorganizing the roster.
HOUSTON: Dominic Kinnear wins games/championships and finds the right pieces to fit into his system.
SEATTLE: Sigi Schmid's player selection has helped expansion Sounders exceed all expectations.
CHIVAS USA: Some say Preki is definitely leaving. Others say he's probably gone. Regardless, few think he will return. Chivas to strengthen its Mexican bond?
REAL SALT LAKE: Jason Kreis, well-liked at RSL, seeks a second straight appearance in a conference final after a lackluster regular season.
COLORADO: Gary Smith and the Rapids were a pleasant surprise until a late-season swoon left them out of the playoffs. Is he the answer for this bland organization?
DALLAS: Schellas Hyndman rallied FCD to the brink of a playoff berth, offering hope to a club that has fallen off the radar.
SAN JOSE: Frank Yallop has always been highly regarded, but when is he going to field a winning team again?

By Steve Goff  |  November 3, 2009; 7:59 PM ET
Categories:  MLS  
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Next: Wednesday Kickaround


Decent amount of coaching opportunites out there.

I just hope we (DCU) don't try to dvd bargain-bin style of getting a new coach where you're hoping against hope to find a good dvd but all you keep coming across are way too many copies of 3 Ninjas, Kazaam, or Howard The Duck.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | November 3, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Glad to see a new name in the register of DC coaching candidates. Dooley was always a solid player for the USMNT and it would be interesting to see what he could bring to the organization. Hopefully they get the right guy for the team, I want to see DC United great again.

Posted by: douglasquaid | November 3, 2009 8:17 PM | Report abuse

I personally would like to get a Brazilian manager, and bring some young Brazilians on the team.

Posted by: RedskinAddict | November 3, 2009 8:22 PM | Report abuse

I think it's critical to have someone who understands MLS--who has seen the refs up close (and what areas they're erratic on), who's seen the players and heard the scuttlebutt about who's bad in the clubhouse, who has a sense for the field and how the ball bounces, who knows the league rules and what a bizarre system of player acquisition we have (other than Europe where you buy whomever you want and sign the rest to reserve or youth contracts). Dooley has the potential to be good. But I'd want him to assist for a year first before I'd think of him as a head coach seriously in MLS.

I"m very comfortable with Richie Williams. He's no retread, has connections to DCU, has shown he can turn around a team and create coherent play out of an incoherent selection of players and despite bad teams, even generate decent attacking ball (ie: he's not all about defense and counter). Decent tactically.

Onalfo--probably a good choice. KC is one of those clubs that just never had the support (in terms of scouting and money) that others have had. Once EJ left, they never did get a good finisher. He's developed decent American players and youth. And had a good rep from people who played for him and also credit for his tactical acumen. I do know that in 2007 and 2008, tactically he seemed to always get the better of us (which may not say much).

Posted by: JoeW1 | November 3, 2009 8:24 PM | Report abuse


I've always thought that the idea of Onalfo having this tactical advantage over Soehn was an easily disproved urban legend.

Last year Soehn pulled the rug out from under Onalfo when the Wizards came to RFK (the first game Simms and Vide were played in central midfield). Onalfo seemed flummoxed, waited until halftime to make changes (which didn't impact the game much), and was a 2-0 loser on the night. Our center backs on the night were McTavish and Pat Carroll.

Other than one game at the beginning of 2007, where Onalfo had Eddie Johnson at his best shred us to bits, I've never thought there was much at all to that line of thinking.

I have strong doubts about Onalfo being able to lead us beyond where we are now. He's a strong scout and has a great commitment to playing the right way, but his tactical moves within games are never surprising. Basically, his bag of tricks consists of "add forward for midfielder/defender". He also appeared unable to get his Wizards to be more than the sum of their parts, and never addressed their glaring defensive problems. Sound familiar?

I also have to disagree with the idea that he's developed young American talent. He's got a series of young, underwhelming defenders that haven't gotten better (Harrington, who has the most potential out of the bunch, even seems to have regressed significantly), and some vets that have plateaued (Jewsbury, for example). No one there has gotten better over a long stretch. Arnaud has had hot streaks, only to then cool off again. Jewsbury is who he was last year. Roger Espinoza regressed in 2009. The list goes on.

Look, I'd love to be dead wrong about Onalfo. If he gets appointed, and United becomes the team we all want it to be, then I'll be the first to say I was wrong about him. However, I see nothing that tells me to expect that series of events.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | November 3, 2009 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Bora. He's taken so many teams to the World Cup. He'll do the same with DC United.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | November 3, 2009 9:37 PM | Report abuse

You think DCU will have the stuff to make it to South Africa?

Posted by: vivzig | November 3, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Boyzzz can find them deals on travel Orbitz and Travelocity would die for.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | November 3, 2009 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Soehn's eyeballing Chicago? It's been a real Chinese fire drill over there all season, so he'll feel right at home. That outcome would be good for DCU too, since both will be on the same market this winter with much payroll to burn and holes to fill.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | November 3, 2009 10:59 PM | Report abuse

So I just finally watched the goal of the year candidates. Many are just time fillers, but, is it too soon to call Matt Reis not any good anymore?

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | November 3, 2009 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Wonder what the chance of Richie quitting and coming home if NJ drags their feet (which they may if the sporting director wait is on)

Posted by: FatSickBoot | November 3, 2009 11:36 PM | Report abuse

I still don't understand why Nowak is coming back to MLS. I feel like it's a step backwards for him, and don't get what he gets out of it.

Posted by: joe_hill | November 3, 2009 11:47 PM | Report abuse

It is never the wrong time to put down Matt Reis. Never.
And I've been saying that for almost 2 years now. So, welcome aboard.

Posted by: marksman37 | November 4, 2009 12:21 AM | Report abuse

I think Tom Dooley would be awesome. Imagine singing/screaming "Doooooooooley! Doooooooooley!" at RFK. What kind of tactics would he implement? Stereotypical (older) German style, defensive-oriented, technical, counter-attacking? Would the current personnel fit?

Posted by: familano | November 4, 2009 12:55 AM | Report abuse

I'm still looking for VW to help United splash the cash on Klinnsman. Short of that, literally and figuratively, I want Richie at the helm.

Posted by: alecw81 | November 4, 2009 2:39 AM | Report abuse

No Onalfo.

No Richie Williams either. Showing himself as a capable interim coach doesn't mean that will translate into being a winning MLS coach. If Richie had not played for DC United, I highly doubt any of you guys would give him a second thought.

Dooley is a question mark.

I say get Preki if possible. Dave Sarachan would also be a fine choice. Sasho Cirovski would be great.

Posted by: Ron16 | November 4, 2009 6:43 AM | Report abuse

I like Richie Williams.

Haven't heard from Thomas Dooley for a while. It could be argued that he helped bring the US Nats out of the dark ages.

Posted by: 9Nine9 | November 4, 2009 7:21 AM | Report abuse


Nowak is clearly a guy who likes being in charge, so it wasn't at all surprising that he gave up an assistant slot on the national team staff for the chance to be manager again...and Goff makes a good point (as usual) about the P.U. job possibly leading to a job in Europe.

Posted by: BaltoFan | November 4, 2009 8:35 AM | Report abuse

What about Raul Diaz Arce?

Posted by: IceNutz | November 4, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

I personally would like to get a Brazilian manager, and bring some young Brazilians on the team.

Posted by: RedskinAddict

I surely hope not. It's time to abandon the South American fetish that recently brought us Peralta, Martinez, Gallardo, Niell, etc etc. And its time to abandon attempts to play to one or another of United's supposed fan bases.

To paraphrase Wenger, its about the qualities and the mindset, not about the passport. If the team plays hard, and plays well, they will find support no matter where they come from.

Tell you whut, those Russkis looked pretty dang good against Man U yesterday. Maybe Ovechkin can help us out recruiting over there?

Posted by: OWNTF | November 4, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Question: If Williams was only the interim coach, why can't we make the offer now to him? If NY waits to gets their acts straight up there, are we forced to wait for them? I have to believe that if Williams had an offer from DC and NY at the same time, there's no contest who he would go for We have a stable organization, a winning tradition, belief in our system, and good people all over to support him. Who could possibly choose NY over DC?
Question 2: Is Osorio ruined at this point? He was a good coach at one point in his life. I wonder why he's not even in the list of candidates.

Posted by: jsm3 | November 4, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Its very difficult for outsiders to come into MLS as a manager and succeed. Something Bora already knows first hand and a long line of high profile folks--zenga, Ruud, etc have found out.

I'd personally like to see Dave Dir on our short list. He's still I believe in the Top 5 in wins, knows american soccer (he was MLS' player accquistion guy early on) and would bring some experience after two first-time managers.

Posted by: nffc65 | November 4, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

I want Steven Goff to be United's next coach!!!

Posted by: 9Nine9 | November 4, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Imagine singing/screaming "Doooooooooley! Doooooooooley!" at RFK.

Posted by: familano | November 4, 2009

Or singing "Hang down your head Tom Dooley" when we miss the playoffs again...

(Not helpful, I know.)

Posted by: -rke- | November 4, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Dooley would be great. Classy, smart player on the field. Would need an assistant who understands MLS' structure and rules, though. Williams would also be good. Of Course, you know the front office is going to make the worst possible choice.

Posted by: hacksaw | November 4, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I feel a mullet sighting...Marco Etcheverry!

Posted by: dpowellutkedu | November 4, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse


Would it be possible to break down the potential fillers of any hypothetical openings? I ask as an interested Fire fan, since I know you mentioned Preki as an option in Chicago if Denis goes, but who else? If Kreis doesn't make the cut for next year are RSL, who'd take that spot? Vermes decides his record with a team he largely built wasn't all the great, who takes the job instead?

Anyway, I wonder if what we saw from FCD was similar to what happened at Columbus under Sigi Schmid. I mean, before last year, the Crew were pretty impotent, and it took Sigi getting his guys in to play his system and getting the old bums out to remake the team. Maybe it just took a while for Hyndman to get the right players into the club and to get them playing the way he wanted. There's a lot of young talent on that team, and if they can get results to go back their way and win their fans over again, FCD may be a success story next year. I know a lot of FCD fans don't like Hyndman for the way the team ended last year and the way it started this one, but if they can build on their finish would all be forgiven?

Posted by: ChrisinBelfast | November 4, 2009 7:52 PM | Report abuse

In New England Stevie Nicol has truly scrapped the bottom of the barrel this year. The Revs need to spend some money for his sake.

The Fire are not the same team as they were earlier in the year when they had Soumare and Conde in the center of their backline. Too bad that Hamlett might lose his job after taking the Fire to the playoffs two years in a row.

Posted by: seanbheffernan | November 4, 2009 11:27 PM | Report abuse

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