The Colorado Rapids and the New England Revolution are currently the two MLS clubs without a full-time head coach.
And they’re probably not the only teams that will be in the market for a new manager come this winter.
With the postseason picture in both conferences starting to take shape, it’s likely that some teams below the playoff line have already started to shift much of their focus to next season. And by the time preseason training camps kick off, don't be surprised to see several new coaching hires.
Which coaches would be good fits? Here’s a list of 10 names who I think could work in MLS. It’s an eclectic mix, featuring young, up-and-coming local talents and more established international imports:
10. John Wolyniec
Current Club: New York Red Bulls II (USL)
Should Jesse Marsch ever decide to leave New York for a new challenge, John Wolyniec would be a natural fit to take over at the Red Bulls. He also might interest other clubs – especially ones looking for a head coach who can give a hand in helping organize their academy. Now in his third season in charge of New York Red Bulls II, the 40-year-old was named Coach of the Year in the USL last year after leading RBNY II to the championship.
9. James O'Connor
Current Club: Louisville City FC (USL)
Also in his third season at the helm of a USL club, James O’Connor has impressed with his direction of Louisville City, now first in the USL Eastern Conference. A native of Dublin, Ireland, O’Connor played for over 10 years as a midfielder in Ireland and England before finishing his career with Orlando in the USL. The 37-year-old UEFA Pro-License holder looks ready to take a big step.
8. Alan Koch
Current Club: FC Cincinnati (USL)
Alan Koch has made an immediate impact in his first year with FC Cincinnati after spending the previous two seasons with Vancouver Whitecaps II. He led the MLS hopefuls to the semifinals of the US Open Cup, where they lost to the New York Red Bulls after extra time. A natural leader with 10 years of experience coaching college soccer and a whole variety of coaching certifications, the 42-year-old will be hoping he can coach Cincinnati one day in MLS, but he shouldn’t be overlooked in the meantime.
7. Robin Fraser
Current Club: Toronto FC (assistant coach)
Toronto FC don’t just have player depth, they also have coaching depth. Bright mind Robin Fraser already has experience as a head coach in MLS with Chivas USA, has been the top assistant for the last three years in Toronto. If looking for a coach already in the league, the former US international and MLS Defender of the Year would be a solid option; signing him away from Toronto might also be a way for opponents to perhaps weaken the league leaders a little bit.
6. Marc Dos Santos
Current Club: San Francisco Deltas (NASL)
Marc Dos Santos is undoubtedly one of the most prepared North American coaches not currently in MLS. He was already ready enough to lead in MLS back in 2011 when Mauro Biello was his assistant in Montreal. Since then, he’s worked at seven different clubs, ranging from youth academy teams in Brazil, to lower-division expansion sides to an assistant coaching role under Peter Vermes at Sporting Kansas City. The 40-year-old is extremely detailed, passionate, and speaks four languages fluently.
5. Giovanni Savarese
Current Club: New York Cosmos (NASL)
Former MetroStars legend Giovanni Savarese is in his last year of contract as head coach and sporting director of the New York Cosmos. He’s been wildly successful with the club, leading the team to three NASL titles since the Cosmos began playing again in 2013. A former Venezuelan international and striker for Swansea City, the 46-year-old has experience coaching academies, a good eye for talent and hasn’t hidden his desire to coach in MLS.
4. Didier Deschamps
Current Team: France (national team)
This isn’t as impossible as it might look. France are still at risk of not making the World Cup in Russia and pressure is mounting on coach Didier Deschamps. If he fails, there's a good chance he'll want to move somewhere far, far away. Like Tata Martino at Atlanta, Deschamps would offer easy access to some of the world's best players.
3. Frank De Boer
Current Club: N/A
After his excellent period at Ajax with both the academy and the first team, De Boer has struggled to find stability. He only lasted 85 days at Inter Milan and just 77 days at Crystal Palace in England, where he coached just five matches before getting the sack. His credibility is, perhaps unfairly, getting battered. Give him time, and he can do very well in MLS, especially for a club trying to develop its academy.
2. Aitor Karanka
Current Club: N/A
The 43-year-old is still a free agent after being let go by Middlesbrough, a team which he led to Premier League promotion. A former assistant to Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid, he has been criticized for being too conservative in his tactics, but having played with the Rapids in 2006, he shouldn’t have much trouble adapting to the league.
1. Paulo Sousa
Current Club: N/A
If looking for the best coach available without being concerned about how much it’s going to cost, there aren't many better options currently than Paulo Sousa. Let go by Italian side Fiorentina at the end of last season, the former Benfica and Juventus defensive midfielder has coached in the English Premier League and internationally with Portugal at youth level. His coaching stints in Israel, Switzerland, and Hungary, suggest that he might not mind testing himself in a new environment.