MLSsoccer.com takes a look at several rumored candidates for the vacant top job at Chivas USA, who parted ways with former head coach Martín Vásquez earlier this year after just one season on the job.
The longtime Chicago Fire assistant coach certainly waited long enough for his first head-coaching job. After serving under Bob Bradley, Dave Sarachan and Juan Carlos Osorio for more than a decade, Hamlett finally got his shot in 2008. He led the Fire to the Eastern Conference Championship that year and again in 2009, losing to the eventual MLS Cup champions each year before the Fire opted to take a shot with Carlos de los Cobos in 2010.
Hamlett’s era in Chicago, of course, included allegations of a physical encounter in the locker room with center back Bakary Soumare midway through the 2009 season. Hamlett interviewed unsuccessfully for the head coaching job with the expansion Portland Timbers, and most recently served as the head coach at the Illinois Institute of Technology (NAIA) in Chicago. Hamlett's strong results in MLS are tough to ignore, but he had a wealth of talent and familiarity in Chicago. Chivas USA would be a new frontier.
Widely regarded as one of the top assistant coaches in MLS, any Real Salt Lake player will tell you that Fraser is one of the keys to the club’s rise to power over the last three seasons. Part of the affinity for Fraser stems from the fact that he’s done it all in MLS, appearing in more than 240 matches for three MLS teams from 1996 to 2005 and winning two MLS Defender of the Year honors. Simply put, players love him, and he loves MLS.
Fraser’s name comes up almost every time a MLS franchise kicks their coach to the curb. He’s been an assistant with RSL since 2007, and head coach Jason Kreis swears by him. He has no noticeable ties to Chivas USA, necessarily, but it could make sense for the Goats to give the keys to the car to perhaps the most promising young coaching talent in the league.
[inline_node:300777]Although not as experienced on the sideline as Fraser or Hamlett, Marsch has the benefit of name-brand recognition with Chivas USA. He logged 106 caps with the Goats and famously stirred the pot with the Galaxy’s David Beckham during a 2007 SuperClásico match before retiring with more than 300 career MLS caps to his credit after the 2009 season.
Marsch was a candidate for the Chicago job that eventually went to de los Cobos, but he landed with former Chivas USA coach Bob Bradley as an assistant with the US national team last summer in South Africa. While he undoubtedly learned quickly under Bradley’s watchful eye during the World Cup, Marsch still has never served as a head coach anywhere, and rebuilding the Goats franchise would be perhaps the biggest task of his career.
Easily the most accomplished of the bunch, Sampson is the only name on this list to win hardware or lead a team into the World Cup as a head coach. Sampson famously piloted the US during their tumultuous flameout during the 1998 World Cup in France, and went on to lead Costa Rica to an all-time best No. 17 spot in the FIFA world rankings in 2004.
He’s also won MLS gold, although it didn’t necessarily come easy. He took over with the LA Galaxy for Sigi Schmid near the end of the 2004 season, and the Galaxy surprisingly struggled much of 2005 before surging to win both the US Open Cup and the MLS Cup, their last titles of either kind. The club struggled to put it together again the following season and Sampson was out before the midseason mark.
Although he’s been away from the league ever since, Sampson is a proven commodity in American soccer. If Chivas USA want to take the safe route, Sampson is a reliable – but certainly not flashy – solution.
The former US World Cup hero certainly has name recognition and Southern California ties, but what about his coaching credentials? He’s dabbled only slightly in player personnel (he was the technical director with the USL’s Bakersfield Brigade) and has spent much more time in broadcasting, where he’s carved his niche with ESPN and Fox Soccer Channel, among others.
Wynalda was a star player, there’s no arguing that. But none of the heroes of the 1994 World Cup have leveraged their success into an MLS head coaching career, and only the Galaxy’s Cobi Jones has made a real dent as an assistant. Is Wynalda the man to break the hex? Is that a risk Chivas USA want to take during an important rebuilding era?