Another offseason, another game of MLS manager musical chairs is underway.
It started long before Decision Day concluded Oct. 9, to be fair. D.C. United and the San Jose Earthquakes parted ways with their head coaches early and have long made permanent hires, with Wayne Rooney joining D.C. in July and Luchi Gonzalez taking over in San Jose after being an assistant with the United States at the World Cup.
All in all, including those two, six clubs need(ed) to hire new managers for 2023. Now, just one of the vacancies remains open.
- OPENING FILLED, Oct. 26: Christian Lattanzio named Charlotte head coach
- Vacancy opened: May 31, Charlotte part ways with Miguel Angel Ramirez
The Italian steered the expansion ship during a tumultuous time, following the surprise change to remove Miguel Angel Ramirez after 14 games, and guided the team to improved results – both by way of bottom-line points (1.16 PPG to 1.37 PPG, -5 GD to -1 GD) and underlying numbers (-4.9 xGD to +1.42 xGD). The points were marginal, and still below a playoff pace when stretched over a full season, but it was still a welcomed bump.
“It was very important after potentially not getting the ideal candidate in our first head coach. We wanted to make sure the second one was the right one,” sporting director Zoran Krneta told MLSsoccer.com. “Chris did a great job of almost leading the boys to the playoffs, but everything else about him, he’s oozing positivity. We’re building for the future and this is what we wanted.”
Lattanzio "stood above everybody else" in their coaching search, and now should welcome some key additions this winter as CLTFC have plenty of year-two flexibility.
"We’re building for the future and this is what we wanted," Krneta said.
- VACANCY FILLED, Nov. 8: The Houston Dynamo officially name Ben Olsen head coach
- Vacancy opened: Sept. 5, Houston part ways with Paulo Nagamura
Nov. 7 – The Houston Dynamo officially named Ben Olsen head coach this week.
Olsen spent most of his playing career with D.C. United and immediately joined the coaching staff upon retiring in 2010, becoming their interim manager by the end of that first season. He was the club's head coach until 2020, amassing a 113W-137L-84D regular-season record with the Black-and-Red.
Houston is his second job on the MLS sidelines.
“The club is proud to welcome Ben Olsen to Houston as the head coach of the Dynamo,” majority owner and chairman Ted Segal said in a club statement. “Ben is one of the most accomplished coaches in MLS and brings championship experience, including winning eight different MLS titles as a player, to this position. His commitment to developing high-potential players and leading playoff contenders make him a great fit for the direction of our organization.”
Houston parted ways with Paulo Nagamura about a month before the 2022 season ended, his first as the Dynamo head coach. They were sitting in last place in the Western Conference when the move was announced and they ended 2022 in 13th place, a slight bump under interim manager Kenny Bundy (up from MLS NEXT Pro).
The Dynamo underwent a makeover across the last year, with Ted Segal taking over as managing owner. Club legend Pat Onstad was named general manager during the winter and they have worked to retool the roster, headlined by the additions of Héctor Herrera and Sebastián Ferreira as Designated Players.
The club also spoke with El Salvador manager Hugo Perez and former Mexico and Paraguay manager Juan Carlos Osorio, among others.
- VACANCY FILLED, Nov. 10: NYCFC name Nick Cushing head coach
- Vacancy opened: June 13, Ronny Deila departs for Standard Liege
Nov. 10 – After spending half the season as interim manager, Nick Cushing has been officially named full time head coach of NYCFC.
Cushing took over in June when reigning MLS Cup-winning head coach Ronny Deila joined Belgian club Standard Liege.
The transition under Cushing wasn't smooth, as a summer swoon saw the club slip, particularly after star forward Taty Castellanos departed for Europe as well (loan to LaLiga sister side Girona). Over a 10-game stretch after Castellanos left in late July, NYCFC went 1W-7L-2D and slipped down the table, but ended that poor run of form with a really strong performance and 2-0 win over Liga MX’s Atlas in the Campeones Cup.
NYCFC won their remaining three regular-season games and ripped through the first two rounds of the playoffs before falling to the Philadelphia Union in the Eastern Conference Final.
“I want to thank everyone at City Football Group for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to continue to grow and develop as a coach," Cushing said. "New York City is such a special place, there are some real special people here at the club, we feed off our city, we feed off of our fans. We feel like our fans deserve a team that plays good football but also delivers trophies and I have the desire to continue that.”
- Open since: Oct. 10, Columbus part ways with Caleb Porter
- Latest (Oct. 31): Sources: Crew make CF Montréal's Wilfried Nancy a candidate
One name to watch? CF Montréal manager Wilfried Nancy. The Crew have made the French manager a target, sources told MLSsoccer.com. But sources also added Nancy's 2023 contract option was automatically triggered after they made the playoffs in 2022, so Columbus would need Montréal's permission to officially interview Nancy. They would also need to compensate CFMTL if Nancy were to leave and take the Crew job.
When asked about his future at a media availability last Tuesday, Nancy was noncommittal.
"Today is the end-of-season presser, I don't want to talk about my situation," Nancy said. "We'll have time to talk about it later, but now we talk about the season." Olivier Renard, Montréal's vice president and chief sporting officer, noted the club want to "continue with Nancy for many years."
Columbus hope to conclude their coaching search and publicly name a new head coach over the next six weeks or so.
“We'd obviously plan and want to have our coach in place for the beginning of preseason, even though it is the earliest preseason we've had in MLS history,” Crew president and GM Tim Bezbatchenko said earlier in October. “From there, ideally by December, although whether or not that's December 1 or mid-December we won't know."