When it comes to “who’s the best?” arguments, they usually encompass which team or player has earned the right to call themselves king.
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Recently though, conversations over social media had us thinking about Major League Soccer, and more specifically, the managerial side of the game.
Household names like Gerardo Martino and Bob Bradley are surely considered to be among the best of the best, and that got us here at Pro Soccer Talk listing the all the potential candidates.
We’re ranking all 23 current MLS managers, based on past performance (wins/losses), longevity at their club and ability to construct a high-caliber roster.
23. Ben Olsen — D.C. United
Olsen’s value to D.C. as both a player and manager cannot go unstated, but his struggles in the latter department have been mounting for years now. Outside of an Open Cup win in 2013, Olsen has been quite underwhelming given the team’s history.
22. Anthony Hudson — Colorado Rapids
It was a tough situation to come into, but some of the player moves that Hudson made in his first season were just mind-boggling.
21. Remi Garde — Montreal Impact
Wholesale changes could be coming at the Impact sooner rather than later, and Garde’s early difficulties make you wonder how long he’ll be around.
20. Mikael Stahre — San Jose Earthquakes
The Earthquakes have made a conscious effort to get younger, so Stahre deserves some more time to get acquainted.
19. Adrian Heath — Minnesota United
It’s been a tough go in Minnesota for Heath, particularly in the injury department. However, his struggles seem to carry with him throughout MLS, whether it was previously in Orlando or currently with the Loons.
18. Jim Curtin — Philadelphia Union
The club’s unwillingness to spend has really crippled Curtin, who deserves to be higher on this list, but there are simply too many quality coaches in the league right now.
17. Veljko Paunovic — Chicago Fire
Since arriving in the U.S., Paunovic has gone heavy with high-profile moves, whether that be Nemanja Nikolic or trading for Dax McCarty. He’s had his shares of ups and downs, so we’ll have to monitor if he gets over some of the humps this season.
16. Brad Friedel — New England Revolution
Friedel’s first season in New England is probably going about as well as he would have hoped for. After getting situated with Lee Nguyen, Friedel has seemed to have brought a real presence that has allowed players like Diego Fagundez and Teal Bunbury to thrive.
15. Giovanni Savarese — Portland Timbers
In a small sample size, Savarese has essentially picked up where Caleb Porter left off with a talented Timbers squad. Time will tell how well he can sustain success in MLS.
14. Mike Petke — Real Salt Lake
RSL boasts one of the best, young squads in MLS with its academy continuing to be a driving force, but Petke has had his share of struggles handling some of the team’s well-known players.
13. Jason Kreis — Orlando City
He has an MLS Cup, so yes, there is a legitimate argument to have him higher. However, his time in New York was one of a nightmare, although not entirely unexpected for an expansion side. That carried over in Orlando until this season, so perhaps a sustained run in 2018 could boost his stock once again.
12. Sigi Schmid — LA Galaxy
Schmid has been stuck with a lot of the holdovers from the previous Galaxy regime, but he has to figure things out very soon because there is a clear gap between the top six and the rest of the Western Conference field at the moment.
11. Wilmer Cabrera — Houston Dynamo
Cabrera has erased a lot of the aftertaste from his time at Chivas USA, and 2018 has been even more impressive given the fact that he and his squad lost Erick “Cubo” Torres during the offseason.
10. Oscar Pareja — FC Dallas
Last season’s second half struggles were likely an anomaly for Pareja and Dallas. He continues to develop talented players through the academy pipeline, which is why Dallas will be in contention in the West once again this season.
9. Patrick Vieira — New York City FC
The Frenchman has brought stability to the Bronx since arriving in 2016, and despite the team’s lack of playoff success, NYCFC has built a strong roster that is honestly one of the most entertaining to watch when clicking on all cylinders.
8. Carl Robinson — Vancouver Whitecaps
His record is dead even across the board 70-49-70 since taking over the Whitecaps, but Robinson has helped his side make the playoffs in three of four seasons, while also hoisting a Canadian Championship.
7. Brian Schmetzer — Seattle Sounders
Consecutive trips to MLS Cup, including one title, is no small feat. Schmetzer may very well be the most-underrated coach in MLS.
6. Greg Vanney — Toronto FC
2018 hasn’t been ideal for Vanney and TFC, but he helped construct one of the best teams in league history, and when healthy, they are still capable of living up to that billing.
5. Gregg Berhalter — Columbus Crew
Despite some of the off-field turmoil surrounding the Crew, Berhalter has instilled a winning culture, and this season might be his best job yet as a manager.
4. Peter Vermes — Sporting KC
There’s a reason why Vermes is the longest-tenured manager in MLS. The club has qualified for the postseason in seven straight seasons under Vermes, including an MLS Cup win in 2013.
3. Bob Bradley — Los Angeles FC
Bradley’s journey back to MLS came with criticism based on his time outside the states, but it’s very clear he knows what he’s doing in the U.S.. LA FC is following in the footsteps of Atlanta from a season ago, which is a scary thought.
2. Gerardo “Tata” Martino — Atlanta United
Martino’s already-impressive reputation has only increased since arriving in Atlanta last year. All the credit cannot solely go to Martino, but much of the team’s success in less than two seasons can go to the Argentine.
1. Jesse Marsch — New York Red Bulls
It’s easy to argue for some of the names other than Marsch at number one, but his system with the Red Bulls has become iconic. The club doesn’t overspend on players, and Marsch manages to get the most out of his Homegrowns and other young squad members.