Kick Off: One day, three new head coaches in MLS
Very rarely in soccer leagues around the world will fans see three different clubs each parade out a brand new head coach on the same day, but somehow Toronto FC, the Montreal Impact and the Portland Timbers simply couldn’t wait any longer to get on with 2013.
Let’s start with the biggest of the news of the day in Toronto, where former MLSer and current Queens Park Rangers defender Ryan Nelsen was named as TFC’s new boss, replacing Paul Mariner after the Reds trudged to their worst season in franchise history.
The architect of the move is new club president and general manager Kevin Payne, who told the media on Tuesday that he’s believed in Nelsen’s leadership abilities since their days together with D.C. United, dating all the way back to 2001.
"My feeling about Ryan is that he's going to be leading this team for five years to come, and if I have to wait a couple of months to start that process, I can afford to wait,” Payne said. “I'd rather do that than make the wrong decision or decision I didn't want to make for the short-term."
TFC fans will have to play the waiting game for Nelsen, who revealed that while he’s excited to join the ranks in Toronto, he’s also obligated to continue plugging along for QPR, who face a huge battle to stay in the English Premier League.
“Getting out the English Premier League has major financial implications and there is a lot of pressure from fans, the media and so on, so I have an obligation,” Nelsen said. “I really want QPR to stay up and to kick on for [manager Harry Redknapp] and because of the owner. They are just fantastic people.”
Here’s the reaction from The Washington Post’s Steven Goff, and Sportsnet’s John Molinaro in Canada takes on Payne’s eagerness to hire Nelsen here. Steve Davis of NBC Sports Pro Soccer Talk largely defends the hiring here, but he’s also having a great time gathering the “Twitter gold” when it came to reactions around the soccer world.
One other bit of news from Toronto was the announcement of Fran O’Leary being named an assistant coach and the Reds’ man on the clock at next week’s MLS SuperDraft. Here’s the word on O’Leary.
Let’s move on to Montreal, where the Impact introduced new head coach Marco Schallibaum to the media, and the former Swiss Pro League boss impressed from the start. That’s what happens when you’re fluent in both English and French (and Italian, and German) and you’re coaching in a city with a decided European influence.
“The culture is different. Our fans didn’t accept that we brought in so many American players,” Impact owner Joey Saputo said. “They wanted to see European and South American players. When we talk about the philosophies not being the same, that’s what it was.”
It turns out that the Impact have become a hot destination for not just Italian players, but also Italian coaches looking to jump to MLS. Saputo told the media that six or seven Italian coaches wanted the job, and here’s a look at some of the Swiss coaches who were also considered.
And as the Impact clean house for 2013, it looks like two Impact assistants, Denis Hamlett and Mike Sorber, have also been let go by the team.
On to Portland, where the Timbers finally rolled new head coach Caleb Porter out to the media on Tuesday, and the new boss didn’t waste much time talking shop. The big news from Porter’s presser was the indication that Designated Player Kris Boyd might have a hard time fitting into the new system.
“Kris Boyd is a player that I think will have a hard time playing in the way that we want to play,” Porter said of Boyd, who led the team with seven goals last year and is under contract for another year. “And that’s no knock on Kris – he would fit in a lot of different systems. But with what I want out of my strikers, it’s going to be very difficult for him to offer what I’m looking for in that position.”
Here’s more on Porter and why he made the move from Akron to Portland: “Staying at Akron was more of a gamble. I was uncomfortable being comfortable. I don't live my life for security. I live my life for challenge and growth and opportunity.”
How happy would Timbers fans be to avoid seeing Fredy Montero in 2013? It looks increasingly like that will happen, with the father of the Seattle Sounders star telling the Colombian media that his son’s loan deal to Millonarios is all but done.
Tim Cahill, meanwhile, might not be going anywhere after all. The New York Red Bulls star has been linked to a possible offseason loan deal with Sunderland for weeks, but it looks as if that might not come to pass.
Plenty of teams were busy signing players on Tuesday, perhaps most notably the LA Galaxy. The reigning MLS Cup champs signed three players to new deals, while the Colorado Rapids announced that defender Marvell Wynne is coming back, the Houston Dynamo are sticking with forward Cam Weaver, and Lloyd Sam has survived the fire sale in New York to return for a second season. Toronto FC are also apparently on the prowl for some help from Honduras.
D.C. United appear to be up next for a big personnel move. The club will make a major announcement on Wednesday morning.
Could Omar Gonzalez be on the way out of MLS someday? ESPN’s Adrian Healey says he’s heard the rumor mill churning, and QPR could be interested in the future.
Two bits of news in Chicago, where the Fire have announced the winner of their recent open tryout, and reigning Rookie of the Year Austin Berry got the homecoming king treatment on a recent visit to Cincinnati.
From the Queen City to, well, Queens, it looks like an area New York City councilman isn’t interested in MLS’ newest expansion franchise carrying that New York title.
"Whatever happens, if we bring a soccer team to Queens, whether it be at Citi Field or a new stadium, that soccer team must be called 'the Queens' whatever," Peter Vallone Jr. told CapitalNewYork.com. "Like, there's the Brooklyn Nets. I want a 'Queens' team."
Stuart Holden is back in the news today, thanks to a 65-minute shift for Bolton’s development squad on Tuesday. Oguchi Onyewu and Malaga are also making noise in Spain, thanks to their big win on Tuesday that pushed them into the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey.
Remember Marc Burch’s slip on the tongue in November and the ensuing suspension for using a gay slur in a match? Check out what the Seattle Sounders defender was up to last weekend.
David Beckham is expected to make an announcement about his future next week, but reports out of England say that at least two London clubs are out of the running. Here’s the latest.
And it's that time of year. The International Federation of Football History and Stats has announced its latest rankings of football leagues around the world, but where’s MLS? Here’s the list.
And lastly, we get a fresh take on the Frank Lampard-to-LA saga from the vantage point of Lampard’s actress girlfriend, who evidently has worked as the host of a television program called That Dog Can Dance. Really.
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