Don’t Forget To Appreciate MLS Coaches

As the 2015 season ends, see how Jesse Marsch and Oscar Pareja molded their teams.
by Katherine Rupp   |   Wednesday, November 25, 2015

US Soccer Federation (USSF)

It was a big year for coaches in MLS and looks to be a big year coming up. There was a lot of attention put on recently introduced coaches like Jesse Marsch and Oscar Pareja – with both coaches currently having their teams, the New York Red Bulls and FC Dallas, in the Conference Finals.

Jesse Marsch, who just recently was bestowed the Coach of the Year honor for 2015 for his work with the New York Red Bulls, is still in his first year as the Red Bulls manager, and it’s looking like it’s one of the better assignments given. Although his year started a bit rocky (with fans at a RBNY Town Hall meeting enraged, and rightly so, with how the firing of former Red Bulls coach, Mike Petke, went), Marsch seemed to smooth emotions and feelings over well enough as he has now taken the red New York team to the Conference Finals.

With his coaching resume showcasing a spot with the USMNT for a little over a year as an assistant, in addition to his first head coaching position at the Montreal Impact. As head coach at the Impact, Marsch had amassed 12 wins, 16 losses and 6 ties, while now at the Red Bulls (and this is not a finished record), Marsch has accounted for 22 wins, 11 losses and 7 draws. Although it may have been a little difficult for Red Bulls supporters, it seems as the Empire Supporters Club and other supporters groups for RBNY have surpassed the frustrating adolescent years with Marsch with the coach looking to head to MLS Cup.

Similar to Jesse Marsch, Oscar Pareja knows what it’s like to be an assistant and then advance to a head coaching role. However, unlike Jesse Marsch, Pareja was wanted at FC Dallas so much after his first season at Colorado Rapids, the Texas club traded a first round 2015 draft pick and allocation money to the Rapids for the coach. With Pareja in his second season at FC Dallas, it’s been a learning season for both the ‘kids’ and the manager. FC Dallas is in the post-season, and much of it is in part of Pareja figuring out the best players to deploy on the pitch this season, most of whom are really just ‘kids’ (hence the #PlayYourKids hashtag that often gets floated around social media), but have exceeded expectations for many pundits and media personnel.

Another coach who went a little under the radar this season was Mauro Biello, now head coach for the Montreal Impact. After being an assistant in Montreal since 2012, the former Canadian international was given the interim head coach tag in August of 2015 after the firing of Frank Klopas. After bringing the Impact to the playoffs, although the team ultimately fell to Columbus Crew SC, Biello was freed of the interim name and became the full head coach, and rightly so.

Looking forward to 2016, there are many storylines to follow. Not only will Marsch, Pareja, and Biello be back in charge of their respective teams, keep a look out for just announced head coach Veljko Paunovic at Chicago Fire to try to heat up the team to make a difference in the Eastern Conference. Additionally, there’s been some rumblings of Peter Vermes getting some watchers from overseas (mainly in Europe), which may not be anything but also could be something to keep in mind.

Although the players and teams get the biggest spotlight, make sure to have the head coaches on the backburner as they really become the spine of a team, and things can get interesting as the season progresses.

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.