MLS coaching carousel: Full list of coaching changes in 2021

With the 2021 MLS season over, the coaching carousel has also concluded with nine teams making managerial changes. By comparison, there were six changes in 2020.

Here’s a look at each coaching change as the 2022 campaign nears.

  • Departed coach: Bob Bradley
  • Interim coach: N/A
  • Incoming coach: Steve Cherundolo

When Bob Bradley departed LAFC to become the head coach and sporting director at Toronto FC, it created an opening at one of the league's most high-profile clubs.

That opening is now filled following Monday's announcement that LAFC have hired former US men's national team stalwart Steve Cherundolo as Bradley's replacement, putting the 42-year-old at the helm of an MLS club for the first time in his coaching career.

Cherundolo most recently served as head coach of LAFC's USL Championship affiliate Las Vegas Lights in 2021 after years of plying his trade as an assistant in the Bundesliga and elsewhere. During his playing days, he earned 87 USMNT caps and amassed over 15 years of playing experience in Germany’s Bundesliga.

  • Departed coach: Tab Ramos
  • Interim coach: N/A
  • Incoming coach: Paulo Nagamura

After parting ways with Tab Ramos once their 2021 season ended, Houston formally filled their head coaching vacancy as the new year got underway.

That's the result of Monday's news that Paulo Nagamura is their next head coach, arriving after five years as a coach with the Sporting Kansas City organization. He previously led now-MLS NEXT Pro side Sporting Kansas City II for four seasons (2018-21).

The longtime MLS midfielder will look to carry Houston forward after they last made the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in 2017

Beforehand, Ramos' departure wasn't particularly surprising given the change in ownership (Ted Segal) and front office (GM Pat Onstad) that occurred during his second year of leading the Dynamo. It was Ramos' first pro coaching gig after previously steering the US U-20 men's national team.

  • Departed coach: Raphael Wicky
  • Interim coach: Frank Klopas
  • Incoming coach: Ezra Hendrickson

Following just under two seasons in charge, Chicago Fire FC parted ways with head coach Raphael Wicky after Week 28 action. Longtime Fire coach Frank Klopas took over on an interim basis and finished the regular season before the club announced the appointment of Ezra Hendrickson as head coach in November.

Klopas was retained as an assistant coach, joined by former Fire legend C.J. Brown, Junior Gonzalez and Adin Brown on the coaching staff.

Wicky led the Fire to a 12W-25L-14D record during the MLS regular season. The club missed the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs for the 10th time in 12 seasons, having also finished one place out of the expanded postseason last year.

The Swiss manager previously led the US U-17 men’s national team and Swiss Super League side FC Basel, where he crossed paths with Fire sporting director Georg Heitz.

  • Departed coach: Jaap Stam
  • Interim coach: Tyrone Marshall
  • Incoming coach: Pat Noonan

FC Cincinnati relieved Jaap Stam of his duties as head coach after 16 months at the helm. The move came nearly two months after the club parted ways with general manager Gerard Nijkamp in early August. At the time, the Orange & Blue were second-from-bottom in the Eastern Conference and overall MLS tables.

Assistant coach Said Bakkati, who came with Stam in 2020, and Yoann Damet, who twice served as FCC's interim head coach, also departed. Tyrone Marshall, head coach of the club’s U-19 academy team and future U-23 side, was tabbed as interim head coach.

Pat Noonan was then named head coach in December after spending the last four seasons as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Union, where new Cincinnati general manager Chris Albright also previously worked.

Noonan will be tasked with lifting FC Cincinnati out of last place in the Eastern Conference and perhaps reaching playoff contention during the club's fourth MLS season.

  • Departed coach: Luchi Gonzalez
  • Interim coach: Marco Ferruzzi
  • Incoming coach: Nico Estevez

FC Dallas relieved Gonzalez of his duties following two-and-a-half years at the helm. Gonzalez compiled a 28W-29L-25D record, reaching the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in both of his first two seasons.

At the time of his departure, FC Dallas were 6-11-9 and winless in their last four matches, with a 3-2 Texas Derby defeat to Houston Dynamo FC his last game in charge. That put FCD at 11th place in the West, seven points below the playoff line with eight matches remaining.

Marco Ferruzzi, the club’s director of soccer operations, took over on an interim basis before Nico Estevez was named head coach in early December. The 41-year-old Spaniard had served as an assistant coach under Gregg Berhalter with the USMNT since 2019, and previously with the Columbus Crew during the 2017-18 seasons.

Estevez will try to guide FC Dallas back to the postseason after a one-year hiatus in 2021.

  • Departed coach: Marc Dos Santos
  • Interim coach: Vanni Sartini
  • Incoming coach: Vanni Sartini

Vancouver Whitecaps FC parted ways with head coach Marc Dos Santos on Aug. 27, while assistant Philip Dos Santos also left the club.

Dos Santos was appointed head coach ahead of the 2019 season and compiled a 22W-37L-18D record. The Whitecaps were on an eight-match unbeaten streak at the time of Dos Santos’ departure.

Whitecaps FC director of methodology Vanni Sartini was named interim head coach, while sporting director and CEO Axel Schuster didn't hold back when explaining the move. Vancouver made a late-season push, clinched a playoff berth and Sartini saw the interim tag lifted upon being signed through the 2023 season.

  • Departed coach: Freddy Juarez
  • Interim coach: Pablo Mastroeni
  • Incoming coach: Pablo Mastroeni

Also on Aug. 27, Real Salt Lake and head coach Freddy Juarez parted ways with immediate effect. Juarez was then named a Seattle Sounders assistant coach on Sept. 1.

Juarez was initially named interim coach at RSL in August 2019 after the midseason departure of Mike Petke, leading the Claret & Cobalt to a Western Conference semifinal appearance that year. Juarez then got the official tag in December 2020, though they missed the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs during the pandemic-altered campaign.

Assistant coach Pablo Mastroeni was named interim coach, helping guide Real Salt Lake to the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs thanks to a dramatic Decision Day win at Sporting Kansas City. They made a run to the Western Conference Final, where they fell to the Portland Timbers.

Mastroeni was then named the club's permanent head coach in December.

  • Departed coach: Gabriel Heinze
  • Interim coach: Rob Valentino
  • Incoming coach: Gonzalo Pineda

Gabriel Heinze was relieved of his duties as Atlanta United head coach on July 18 after compiling a 2W-4L-7D record following his hire last December. The Argentine manager was previously at Vélez Sarsfield in his home country.

Assistant coach Rob Valentino took over on an interim basis before the club hired Gonzalo Pineda as head coach on Aug. 12. Pineda was in the middle of his fifth season as a Seattle Sounders' assistant coach.

Buoyed by Valentino and then fueled by Pineda, the Five Stripes surged into the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs where they fell to NYCFC in Round One. Now with a full preseason ahead of him, and what will likely be an active offseason, Pineda is determining the formula for getting Atlanta back to their high-flying early heights.

  • Departed coach: Chris Armas
  • Interim coach: Javier Perez
  • Incoming coach: Bob Bradley

The first head-coaching casualty of the 2021 season came on July 4 when Toronto FC relieved Chris Armas of his duties after just 11 matches, none of which were played in Toronto.

Armas, who helped head the New York Red Bulls to the 2018 Supporters' Shield, was hired to replace Greg Vanney on Jan. 13. The club went 1W-8L-2D with Armas at the helm.

Javier Perez was named head coach for the remainder of the season and Toronto FC finished second-to-last in the Eastern Conference, missing the postseason for the first time since 2018, the year after their record treble-winning campaign. Bob Bradley was named head coach and sporting director in late November after four years in charge of LAFC.

It will likely be a busy offseason for Bradley, with the club linked to Italian attacker Lorenzo Insigne, which could be one of a flurry of moves in Toronto.