If we include two clubs currently riding an interim manager, a trio of MLS coaching jobs are open today. Dallas is definitely open, while the deciders in Columbus and San Jose have choices to make on their interim men.
There could be as many as six other MLS managerial openings – and that’s being conservative. There may be more; the list of clubs with a coach on unstable footing includes Chicago, Chivas USA, D.C. United, New England, Philadelphia, Seattle, Toronto and Vancouver.
And that’s not including Real Salt Lake, where Jason Kreis is obviously safe and sound, but might still be kicking the tires on the soon-to-be New York City FC position. That would fling the office door open at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Clearly, if you are a good MLS coaching candidate, this is going to be a buyer’s market, so to speak.
And that brings me to Tab Ramos.
Others will find their way into the early coaching conversations to come. Red Bull assistant Robin Fraser, for instance, continues to be well thought of, regardless of what happened at Chivas USA. Seriously, no one has ever really excelled at Chivas USA, although some (Bob Bradley, Preki) managed some small progress, at least.
But Ramos may be the prize.
The former U.S. international midfielder – truly, quite the player back in the day, thoughtful, skilled and quick – is now the U.S. under-20 coach. Ramos, 47, has coaching experience, MLS experience as a player and a well-rounded variety of experiences in the game here and abroad.
Mostly, he has great ideas about player development. (Read about those in Paul Gardner’s recent, extensive conversation with Ramos). And player development, especially as MLS clubs’ academies continue to mature, will increasingly be a springboard to success. (That’s particularly true at clubs that cannot perennially flash the DP dollars and spend extravagantly on quality, tested internationals.)
Major League Soccer’s deciders see the great things going on with Caleb Porter in Portland and Oscar Pareja in Colorado. Both came from “youth” coaching backgrounds, Porter in the college system and Pareja with FC Dallas’ academy.
Kreis is also doing good things with player development, successfully and rather seamlessly replacing veteran stalwarts with “kids” this year in Utah.
Ramos has the same look and feel. And if I am an MLS owner, I am beating on Ramos’ door this morning.
Assuming the man is interested in MLS coaching, someone is going to get him. The smart MLS owner will be in the front of that line.