A Focus on MLS Coaches

Coaches in MLS range from veteran managers to first-year coaches in MLS.
by Katherine Rupp   |   Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Major League Soccer (MLS) 2012 Season Preview

Most of the time, the focus of the offseason is the player. Whether it’s player acquisitions, injuries, trades, or player progression, it’s just about that – the player. However, with so many other cogs to the whole of an MLS team, from the training staff to equipment manager and the broadcast team to the grounds staff, a team needs every part to run smoothly. One part of the team that most definitely needs to be in sync with a club is the coach. And this 20th year of MLS is no different with many coaches making names for themselves.

In the past few seasons, a couple of coaches have been swapped between a handful of teams like Jesse Marsch and the Franks: Yallop and Klopas. Marsch, a former MLS player, is a controversial coach this year because of the current team he manages. He most recently coached at Montreal but has been appointed as head coach – after an unexpected firing of popular coach Mike Petke – of the New York Red Bulls. Although immediately after Petke was let go, many Red Bulls fans were incensed – and some still are – at the decision of the front office, but Marsch, with his years of experience in the game, will try to win over fans (doubters included) and forge a Marsch-y trail for the original New York MLS team.

Another coach who will look to win over some fans after the departure of the long-tenured manager of the Houston Dynamo – Dominic Kinnear – is Owen Coyle. The Scot, who will be in his first year of coaching in MLS this season, takes over in Houston after stints at Wigan Athletic in the English Championship as well as the Bolton Wanderers. Coyle has a few things at hand that could be challenges including the fact that many non-US managers of MLS clubs don’t excel as well as the US coaches, the fact that the Dynamo have not been to the MLS Cup since 2012, and how the weather will factor into his infamous shorts-wearing. Regardless of his prior experience in managing clubs in England, there will be a handful of eyes watching Coyle to see his coaching style and where the Dynamo finishes on the table.

Another newbie, at least to MLS (but not to an American club), is Adrian Heath, manager of Orlando City SC. With OCSC coming into the MLS fold, he’ll have to show off what he’s got in terms of players on the pitch rather than previous silverware from the USL. Heath’s counterpart of a new club coming into MLS is Jason Kreis, head coach of NYCFC. Unlike Heath, Kreis has many a years at the helm of an MLS club (MLS Cup winning Real Salt Lake) and has lots of knowledge of the league to his advantage.

Regardless of if a new coach to MLS a la Heath or Coyle has stunning MLS seasons or if a seasoned coaching veteran – like Bruce Arena of LA or Sigi Schmid of Seattle – showcases an MLS Cup winning squad, managers of MLS teams should be watched, critiqued, and possibly criticized or applauded this season. By raising the level of awareness of who coaches are in MLS – to a respectable level, that is – the league can benefit from the characters of not only players but also the managers. 

Katherine RUPP

Drake University
Club Domestic:
Sporting KC
Club Foreign:
Tottenham Hotspur
Unabashed Minnesotan by birth. Tried reliving the glory days of collegiate intramural soccer championships but an ACL tear dashed future hopes of adult recreational greatness. Covering a city’s team that’s too big for one state: SKC.