In the wake of Preki getting fired by Toronto FC on Tuesday, Michael Lewis takes a look at the history of how MLS coaches have come, gone, and fared through the League's first 15 years.
The Fire connection
After what the MetroStars and Red Bulls have done, perhaps MLS has to make a list of 10 commandments, one being, do not covet your rival's coach. In 2002, the MetroStars wanted Bob Bradley, who had guided the Chicago Fire to the 2000 MLS Cup crown and got their man. Five years later, the team, then known as the Red Bulls wanted Juan Carlos Osorio, even though he had directed the Fire for about half a season. They got their man as well. On both occasions New York had to compensate Chicago. With Hans Backe guiding the Red Bulls into the playoffs and perhaps beyond, Carlos de los Cobos appears safe… at least for now.
So close, yet so far
Alfonso Mondelo got the MetroStars into the playoffs in 1998, but never coached in the post-season. He was fired with a game remaining in the regular season. The team had lost six consecutive games and team management felt he no longer had control of the team. Bora Milutinovic was named his successor, beginning the club's first dark age in 1999.
Getting out on top
Two coaches left teams before they could come close to wielding their respective axes. After three MLS Cup appearances and two championships, Bruce Arena said adios to DC United to take over the reins of the US National Team in 1998. Ten years later, Schmid said goodbye to the Columbus Crew after directing the team to the title to become the coach of the Seattle Sounders.
The longest tenure
That honor goes to New England Revolution coach Steve Nicol, who has been around since late in the 2002 season. The Revs reached MLS Cup in their home stadium that year, losing to the Galaxy.
National Team connection
Five US National Team coaches have guided teams in the League and four have won titles. Again, in chronological order: Bob Gansler (1990 World Cup), who took Kansas City to the 2000 title, Steve Sampson (1994 WC), who coached the Galaxy to the 2005 crown, Bruce Arena (2002 and 2006 WCs), who directed DC United to the 1996 and 1997 championships and Bob Bradley (2010 WC), who led the Chicago Fire to the 1998 title. Bora Milutinovic (1994 WC) was a disaster as MetroStars coach in 1998-99.
The MetroStars connection
Several months ago, we reported about former MetroStars coaches who guided teams in the South African World Cup. I won't go into detail, except for a quick reminder - Carlos Alberto Parreira (South Africa, Carlos Queiroz (Portugal) and Bradley (USA) pulled off that rather unique feat. Milutinovic did not coach a team, but was a scout for Serbia.