The urge to hire coaches with an accent (foreign dudes, that is) will simply be too irresistible for some Major League Soccer owner or GM. Managers from lands afar with no MLS experience may work in MLS, or they may not; there are examples on either side of that argument.
But there are plenty of good choices from the good ol’ USA, men with ample knowledge of the MLS quirkiness, the measurable tax of summer heat and travel, salary cap restrictions, the personnel acquisition peculiarities, etc.
Here are the top five North American coaching candidates (in alphabetical order), plus one bonus choice, who may already have been picked off the shelf:
Bob Bradley: It seems pretty unlikely the former U.S. national team boss will remain with Egypt once the Pharaohs are eliminated from World Cup contention (as they almost certainly will be upon the return leg against Ghana). Bradley (pictured) would love to remain at the international level. But he’s a soccer man through and through, and if he doesn’t get an offer quickly, the MLS suitors would be silly not to line up. Columbus is certainly eager to get in line.
Robin Fraser: Pay no attention to that dark spot on his resume, a.k.a. the Chivas USA period; that place is just this side of hopeless. (Although for Chivas USA fans, I certainly do hope things improve.) Everyone respects Fraser; he’ll get another shot at some point. (Probably at Real Salt Lake if Jason Kreis grabs the chance to become New York City FC’s first manager.)
Jesse Marsch: The longtime MLS midfield fixture did good things in 2012 with expansion Montreal. A Bradley protégé, he’s going to be a good manager somewhere – it just looks like Montreal wasn’t the right fit. Maybe he’ll be a better fit at Chicago if the Fire decides that Frank Klopas isn’t the right guy for the bench at Toyota Park.
Tab Ramos: As I wrote about before, he looks to me a lot like the next Caleb Porter. And who wouldn’t want the next MLS Coach of the Year – since Porter seems likely to be handed that honor in December? Ramos isn’t just a student of the game, he’s a student of teaching the game. In working with young players, you could do a whole lot worse than the thoughtful, former U.S. midfield standout.
Eric Wynalda: I spoke to Wynalda recently in Kansas City, prior to a U.S. national team practice. He likes his TV gig. It works for him now – but I got the feeling he would listen to the right MLS offer. It has to be a good fit; the former American international is outspoken, and it’s going to take a bit of a maverick owner, someone who understands Wynalda isn’t a group-think guy and doesn’t always care about diplomacy. But he is a sharp guy, and he’ll get a lot out of his players.
(Bonus candidate: Frank Yallop. Thing is, he already seems to be off the shelf. Reports are coming out of Canada that he’s already in line to replace Martin Rennie at Vancouver. If not … then add him to this list. Everyone loves playing for him, and he remains well respected.)