Daily Kickoff - 11.17.23
What you need to know

Chris Armas named Colorado Rapids head coach

The Colorado Rapids have filled their head coach vacancy, announcing Friday that Chris Armas has taken charge for the 2024 MLS season. Armas brings MLS managerial experience to the Western Conference club, having previously led the New York Red Bulls (2018-20) and Toronto FC (2021). Most recently, he served as an assistant coach for Manchester United (2021-22) and Leeds United (2023) in the English Premier League.

USMNT roll against Trinidad & Tobago

It was better late than never for the US men’s national team, which needed late goals from Ricardo Pepi, Antonee Robinson and Gio Reyna to defeat 10-man Trinidad & Tobago, 3-0, in the first leg of their Concacaf Nations League quarterfinal at Austin FC's Q2 Stadium Thursday night. The second leg is scheduled for Nov. 20 in Port of Spain, when the two-time defending CNL champions can book their semifinal place in March 2024. Crucially, the aggregate winner also secures a Copa América 2024 spot.

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A too-early look at who's ready to bounce back under a new manager

We’re not going to rehash the whole “managers don’t matter as much as you might think (or maybe even at all!)” thing. But we will point out that if your club is looking for a new manager, things probably haven’t been going so great. A whole lot of MLS teams are in moments where things aren’t going so great. In fact, 11 MLS teams have changed managers this season. Ten will begin 2024 with a manager coaching their first game with the team.

When next season begins, some of those managers will be better set for success than others. To help sort out which jobs you need to be keeping the closest eye on, here’s a way-too-early look at which future manager is jumping into the best situation heading into 2024.

10. Chris Armas - Colorado Rapids

As of noon ET today, Chris Armas has been named head coach of the Colorado Rapids. I don’t really have much to add other than the fact he’s set to have a wild resume by the time he’s done. You can refer to him as “Former Manchester United assistant, Leeds United co-interim manager and head coach of the NCAA Division II Adelphi Panthers, Chris Armas.”

We’ll see if all of that worldliness translates toward maximizing the potential of one of the lowest-spending teams in the league. Robin Fraser did it for a bit and then the bottom fell out on the roster. Club president Pádraig Smith believed Fraser should have been getting more out of the group, though, and he’s now turned to Armas to get the job done. That didn’t really happen in New York or Toronto, but people grow and learn over time.

Then again, there’s only so much you can do if you’re being outspent across the board.


I’m still a bit shocked that someone decided Ezra Hendrickson of all people was the problem with this team. The Fire bailed on Hendrickson early in the 2023 season and, as we all know, immediately turned it around to break a long playoff drought and become the kind of contender we always knew this sleeping giant could be……………..[checking].....................

Ok, yeah, so, maybe I got some things wrong there off the top of my head. I looked into it a little more and Chicago have made the playoffs twice since 2010, and this year was not one of those two times. But the good news is there’s been a total refresh of the front office and there’s a new outlook in Chicago when it comes to roster construction…………………[checking]................................................

Wow, ok, I am struggling here.

Hey, at least they’re actually willing to spend a bit. Eventually, that’s going to pay off, right?


It’s not exactly a great situation, and there’s technically a very high probability that you won’t last more than two years based on Montréal’s hiring and firing practices. But, hey, they’re only two years removed from a 60-point season, and they were a stoppage-time New York Red Bulls penalty away from making the playoffs this season. There are worse rosters to start with.


Charlotte made the playoffs this year, but that seemed to be almost in spite of their DPs. It’s tough to say former manager Christian Lattanzio was the issue here when the team whiffed on two of their three DPs. It seems like the third, Karol Swiderski, could be on his way out this offseason if a team in Europe comes calling. There’s work to do here, and it could be a lot of work if they don’t get this offseason right and if DP Enzo Copetti doesn’t take a big jump forward in year two.

There were apparently conflicts in approaches between Lattanzio’s game model and how sporting director Zoran Krneta wanted the roster to play. Maybe some alignment between the parties in charge will go a long way? Look, I’ll just say it’s not exactly a great sign when a team that’s only existed for two seasons is already set to hire their third manager.


Yes, there are a lot of unanswered questions about who’s actually going to be building the roster going forward and the structure of the organization, etc. etc. But, to be fair, they were probably unlucky to not make the playoffs this season. Their underlying numbers were actually good. Plus, any manager who gets to come in and look like a genius for running the “IDK Benteke’s down there somewhere” tactic already has a built-in advantage. On top of that, there’s an open DP spot, young talent like Ted Ku-DiPietro and decent pieces to work with. It’s not ideal, but you wouldn’t come into this job praying for a total rebuild of the roster. If the new GM is the right GM, the team will be in a good spot. That’s a big if, but it’s not implausible.

5. Phil Neville - Portland Timbers

The Timbers are still the Timbers. Nothing is necessarily ideal right now, but Neville will still get to shape the team around Evander as he enters his second season, and the club is generally going to be willing to invest what they need to compete. There’s a reason they’ve made three MLS Cups in the last nine years. It’s far from a perfect situation, but it could be worse.

4. John Herdman - Toronto FC

The current roster is not good. In fact, it’s very not good. But throwing money at problems eventually seems to work out in most cases. So. I’m going to guess Toronto will keep throwing money at the problem until it’s fixed. That’s the kind of advantage other managers on this list won’t have. Toronto will be back eventually. It’s a matter of when, not if.

3. MANAGER TO BE NAMED LATER - New England Revolution

It sounds like there are a lot of repairs to make in the locker room. But a new manager should provide some stability for a roster that’s still good and still has Carles Gil. Having Carles Gil tends to go a long way.


I’m honestly not even sure what a Red Bulls manager does. I think going into the locker room before each match and saying, “Hey guys, we’re going to go out and press today” and then making the playoffs no matter what sounds like a solid gig. It might be even better if the team is true to their word about pushing for more than just playoff appearances. They’ll have a new sporting director in charge soon and maybe that’s the kind of refresh they needed to get this roster back to a spot where they can compete and tweak the game model to be a tiny bit more playoff-friendly. Either way, you’re going to make the playoffs every year. Congrats.

1. MANAGER TO BE NAMED LATER - Minnesota United FC

This job seems like it rules? You get a solid roster led by Emanuel Reynoso (presumably for a full season) that already had excellent underlying numbers this season. Expectations are there but aren’t outlandish. The team wants to win. They just brought in a new sporting director with a solid resume and MLS experience. It feels like a good time to take over in Minnesota and succeed without having to deal with too many changes. The Loons really just need a coach to steady the ship and point it in the right direction. The rest will take care of itself.

Other Things

Darlington Nagbe signs contract extension with Columbus Crew: The Columbus Crew have signed central midfielder Darlington Nagbe to a contract extension through the 2025 MLS season with an option for 2026. Nagbe, a three-time MLS champion and former US international, has captained the Crew under head coach Wilfried Nancy. One of the league’s best possession-based players, he’s amassed 38 goals and 46 assists in 386 regular-season games across 13 seasons.

Philadelphia Union sign Danish midfielder Ngabo: The Philadelphia Union have signed midfielder Sanders Ngabo from Danish top-flight side Lyngby Boldklub. Ngabo, 19, will join Philadelphia beginning in the 2024 MLS season with club options for 2026-27. He will occupy an international roster slot.

FC Cincinnati sign Louro to contract extension: FC Cincinnati have signed goalkeeper Evan Louro to a contract extension through the 2025 MLS season. Louro, 27, joined the Orange & Blue from USL Championship side Tampa Bay Rowdies in August 2022 and has featured for the club's MLS NEXT Pro affiliate FC Cincinnati 2, making 38 saves over 12 appearances.

Rivas named 2023 MLS Referee of the Year, McKay named Assistant of the Year: Major League Soccer and the Professional Referee Organization today announced Victor Rivas as the 2023 MLS Referee of the Year. It is the first time Rivas has earned this distinction. Ian McKay won the 2023 MLS Assistant Referee of the Year.

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Good luck out there. Practice constant vigilance.