New York Red Bulls ready to move on Gary McAllister as new coach

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UPDATE: New York denies McAllister’s received offer

The number of head coaching vacancies in Major League Soccer is about to be cut in half. That’s because Gary McAllister, long-linked with the job in Harrison, appears set to be named head coach of the New York Red Bulls.

An announcement could happen as early as today, with a formal unveiling expected later this week.

McAllister’s last long term head coaching job was with Leeds United in 2008. With only caretaker stints at Aston Villa (where he was an assistant) between then a now, there’s little to say what he’ll bring to Red Bull area.

He’s Scottish, has a long history in the English game (playing for Leicester City, Leeds, Coventry City, and Liverpool), and is being brought in by two men (Andy Roxburgh and Gerard Houllier) hiring him based on his time in British football. Draw whatever stereotyping conclusions you want from that. They may be correct.

Given the wait-and-see approach we’ll have to take regarding McAllister’s on-field contributions, the most interesting parts of this story are …

  • a.) Now only Montreal is left without a coach. At last rumble, Impact owner Joey Saputo’s list was down to two candidates.
  • b.) FOX Soccer personality and U.S. Men’s National Team legend Eric Wynalda had talked with the team about the job. That Roxburgh and Houllier went in a different direction shows they have no aspirations to make my life as easy as possible.
  • c.) McAllister initially wanted $2 million to take the job, which sounds perfectly reasonable for an coach with limited managerial experience moving to a league with financial constraints that’s notoriously hard on imported coaches.

Steve’s talked about the foreign coach phenomenon, while I tend to take every opportunity I can to denounce Anglophilia in North American soccer culture. So on the surface, there is a lot for PST to dislike about this move.

But McAllister is a respected name, and not only because of his 23-year playing career or his 57 caps for Scotland. He has earned enough coaching credibility that a boss’s job was inevitable. That he’s elected to take one in Major League Soccer rather than descending the Football League’s ladder could prove a good lifestyle and career move. Success at a club with New York’s profile would be noticed back home (thanks to Thierry Henry).

Whether McAllister finds that success will depend on his willingness to adapt the the landscape. It’s been two short years since an Englishman led a club to a title (Gary Smith with Colorado in 2010). That will be the expectation in New York.

New Zealand women footballers rebel against national coach

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Wellington, New Zealand (AP) Only weeks after New Zealand Football made headlines by signing a revolutionary equal pay deal with its female players, the organization is facing a mutiny by members of its women’s team against the national coach.

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New Zealand Football confirmed on Tuesday it had received a letter signed by a number of New Zealand players complaining about the methods and tactics employed by Austria-born coach Andreas Heraf.

The complaints follow the New Zealand team’s recent 3-1 loss at home to Japan. Heraf angered his players, and fans of the Football Ferns national team, by taking an entirely defensive game plan into the rare home international.

Heraf then further angered his players with comments defending his approach.

He said there was “a big difference in quality” between the New Zealand and Japanese players and that New Zealand “will never have that quality” to compete with top teams like Japan. He said the scoreline might have been 8-0 if New Zealand had not adopted a defensive approach.

One of New Zealand’s leading players, United States-based Abby Erceg, retired after playing 132 matches for New Zealand, citing Heraf’s approach in previous international matches.

She later told New Zealand media: “I couldn’t stand to wear that (national symbol) on my chest any more when his vision was to cower in a corner and not get beat by too much.”

New Zealand Football defended Heraf against the media and public criticism but admitted his comments were “strange” and “wrong” and did not accurately reflect his views. Heraf later apologized and said he had not expressed himself clearly.

But efforts to dampen the controversy have failed. New Zealand Football said in a statement it had “received a letter from the NZ Professional Footballers Association (NZPFA) last night with a number of complaints from the players of the Football Ferns.”

The mutiny comes only weeks after New Zealand gained international headlines for a deal which gives female pay parity with their male counterparts.

New Zealand Football signed the deal which provided female players with equal match payments, travel arrangements and prize money.

At the time, New Zealand women’s captain Ali Riley said the deal meant New Zealand would “be able to compete against the top teams, to be able to do well at a World Cup and the Olympics – this is what we needed.”

VIDEO: Colombia sees red, Japan takes early lead

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The first red card of the World Cup came just moments after fans took their seats in Saransk.

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After David Ospina blocked a breakaway opportunity from Yuya Osako in the third minute of the match, Japan star and former Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa fired the rebound on goal. But his shot was blocked by the arm of Colombia midfielder Carlos Sanchez, which earned him a straight red card from referee Damir Skomina and an early trip to the locker room.

Kagawa then stepped up to the spot and calmly sent Ospina the wrong way to give Japan the shock early lead.

Colombia will play the rest of the match with ten men and no James Rodriguez, who was named to the bench for this match as he recovers from a reported calf injury.

Rodriguez out of Colombia starting XI

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Taking a page out of Egypt’s book, Colombia will be without its talismanic playmaker for its first match, Tuesday morning against Japan.

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Juan Fernando Quintero replaced James Rodriguez in Colombia’s starting Xi to take on Japan in Saransk as Colombia coach Jose Pekerman clearly hopes a few extra days of recovery for the injured Rodriguez will help him return to 100 percent fitness. Rodriguez is battling a reported calf injury.

Rodriguez scored six goals and had two assists in five games at the last World Cup in Brazil, helping guide Los Cafeteros to their first World Cup quarterfinals appearance.

World Cup’s only black coach says there should be more

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MOSCOW (AP) — The only black coach at this year’s World Cup says there is a need for more in soccer.

“In European countries, in major clubs, you see lots of African players. Now we need African coaches for our continent to go ahead,” Senegal’s Aliou Cisse said through a translator on Monday, a day ahead of his nation’s World Cup opener against Poland.

[ MORE: Where to watch Tuesday’s games, feat. Colombia and Egypt ]

The percentage of black players at this year’s tournament and with clubs in the world’s top leagues is far higher.

Cisse was captain of Senegal when it reached the 2002 quarterfinals in the nation’s only previous World Cup appearance.

“I am the only black coach in this World Cup. That is true,” Cisse said. “But really these are debates that disturb me. I think that football is a universal sport and that the color of your skin is of very little importance.”

[ MORE: Harry Kane “buzzing” after two goals | Southgate encouraged ]

FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cisse cited Florent Ibenge, the coach of Congo’s national team, as a sign of progress.

“I think we have a new generation that is working, that is doing its utmost, and beyond being good players with a past of professional footballers,” Cisse said. “We are very good in our tactics, and we have the right to be part of the top international coaches.”

Africa’s best performance at the World Cup has been to reach the quarterfinals, accomplished by Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002 and Ghana in 2010.

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“I have the certainty that one day an African team, an African country, will win the World Cup,” Cisse said. “It’s a bit more complicated in our countries. We have realities that are not there in other continents, but I think that the African continent is full of qualities. We are on the way, and I’m sure that Senegal, Nigeria or other African countries will be able win, just like Brazil, Germany or other European countries.”

A lack of minority managers also has been documented at the club level. The Sports People’s Think Tank said in November there were just three minority managers among the 92 English professional clubs as of Sept. 1.