Monday, April 9, 2012

RSL-Colorado coaching matchup illustrates new trend in MLS

Jason Kreis had an interesting view across the field on Saturday when his Real Salt Lake team played host to the rival Colorado Rapids.

That’s because one of his favorite former teammates — Oscar Pareja — is now the coach of the Rapids, and he’s one of the latest among a new generation of coaches that has been taking over Major League Soccer since just about the time Kreis was hired right off the field five years ago.

"Absolutely," said Paul Bravo, the technical director for the Rapids who hired Pareja. "There has been a transformation within the league."

When Kreis became the youngest coach in league history, only four of the other 11 coaches had extensive playing experience in the league.

Now, 13 of the 19 coaches around the league played significantly in MLS before moving into coaching, and they’re getting younger all the time.

While Pareja is actually four years older than Kreis, four others — Ben Olsen at D.C. United, Jay Heaps at New England, Martin Rennie in Vancouver and Jesse Marsch at Montreal — are all younger than the 39-year-old RSL coach. Another seven are 45 or younger, with the average age around the league just 45.9 years old.

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