Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What does Williams have to do?

Michael Lewis writes about the challenges facing Richie Williams in getting a coaching job in Major League Soccer.

Williams has certainly paid his dues as both a player and assistant coach in both college soccer and in MLS.

Before I go any further, I should make it clear that I do not represent Richie Williams. I am neither his agent nor his manager. OK, now that I've gotten this out of the way, I now can say it: Why isn't Williams a head coach of an MLS team? I mean, what does the man have to do?

Williams has gone through enough job interviews in recent years - FC Dallas, DC United and even the New York Red Bulls, after Juan Carlos Osorio resigned during that forgettable 2009 season, among other clubs - that he probably can be on the other side of the table and ask some probing questions himself to prospective head coaches.

At 41, Williams has all the background and tools to be a head coach. He has paid his dues, coaching in college as an assistant at his alma mater, the University of Virginia. He also knows this League, inside and out, having been in the original, 1996 class of Major League Soccer. He became one of the top defensive midfielders in MLS, an all-star and was called into the National Team 20 times.

He has been a professional assistant coach since the 2006 MLS season and was an assistant coach under four coaches on the MetroStars/Red Bulls learning from and assisting the likes of Mo Johnston, Bruce Arena, Juan Carlos Osorio and Hans Backe.

He has been around the block and then some. He is there for the hiring. Yet, no one wants to take the plunge.

In fact, Williams has been an MLS head coach already - on two occasions - as a caretaker coach for the Red Bulls, first in 2006, between the Johnston and the Arena regimes and then three years later after Osorio resigned.

Both times Williams directed the Red Bulls to 3-3-2 marks. He inherited a team from Johnston that had accrued more ties than wins and losses combined (2-3-7). Hmmm, where have we heard that song before? (this year's 6-6-13 Red Bulls' team). He then took over a down-trodden side from Osorio that had won all of two matches out of 22 (2-16-4 record) and acquitted himself well, especially given the circumstances.

Granted, 12 games might not be the ultimate measuring stick, but I saw enough, the way he ran practices, dealt with the players and the media.

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