A look back at MLS' high-profile managerial imports over the years

In the wake of Atlanta United FC's decision to name former Argentina and Barcelona manager Gerardo "Tata" Martino as the club's first-ever head coach ahead of their expansion season in 2017, it's time to revisit the question: Can an "imported" manager, even a high-profile one, succeed in MLS?

Some have, some haven't. Regardless, Martino is hardly MLS's first high-profile managerial import. We've compiled a list of 10 MLS managers who achieved high profiles abroad before coming to the league – some as managers, some as players who went into management, and one who did both at the same time.

And with that, here we go:

10. Mo Johnston

MetroStars/New York Red Bulls (2005-06), Toronto FC (2007-08)
All-time Record: 10-20-15

Johnston was famous – or infamous, if you will – when he came to play for the then-Kansas City Wizards in 1996. Back home in Scotland, he made headlines (and earned death threats) by becoming the first Catholic player in modern times to jump the Auld Firm ship from Celtic to Rangers. Johnston won a Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup with Kansas City in 2000, but couldn't match that success as a manager.

9. Owen Coyle

Houston Dynamo (2014-16)
All-time Record: 14-21-12

Coyle brought a wealth of coaching experience – including stints with two Premier League clubs – to Houston when he replaced Dominic Kinnear at the end of 2014, but that never translated to success with the Dynamo. Coyle parted ways with the club in May, citing a desire to be closer to his family.

Currently: Managing Blackburn Rovers in the Championship.

8. Walter Zenga

New England Revolution (1998-99)
All-time Record: 13-23-0

Zenga had a lengthy resume of goalkeeping success when he signed with the Revs in 1997: a Serie A title and two UEFA Cups with Inter Milan, a third-place finish with Italy at the 1990 World Cup, and a World Cup record for minutes without conceding (518) which still stands. He became player/manager for the 1998 and 1999 seasons, then left New England and retired from playing but kept his coaching career alive.

Currently: Managing Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Championship.

7. Aron Winter

Toronto FC (2011-12)
All-time Record: 7-22-15
Honors: Canadian Championship (2011, 2012)

Winter, who had 84 caps with the Dutch national team during a long playing career, led the Reds to a pair of trophies and the 2011-2012 CONCACAF Champions League semifinal, at that time the highest finish for a Canadian side. But at the same time the Reds were making history and winning another Voyageurs Cup, they were stumbling to an 0-9 league start in 2012 and Winter was out after 10 matches.

Currently: Managing Ajax U-19 team.

6. Steve Nicol

New England Revolution (1999, 2002-11)
All-time Record: 112-108-81
Honors: North American SuperLiga (2008), Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (2007), MLS Coach of the Year (2002)

As a player, Nicol racked up a long list of accomplishments for Liverpool: 343 matches played, five top-flight titles, three FA Cup championships, one European Cup. He led the Revs to two titles during his second tenure (after an interim stint in 1999) and took them to four MLS Cup finals – only to see them come away empty-handed each time.

5. Bora Milutinovic

MetroStars (1999)
All-time Record: 8-25-0

Milutinovic, who coached the United States to the knockout rounds of the 1994 FIFA World Cup, is only one of two managers – both on this list, by the way – to take five different national teams to soccer's biggest tournament. In all, "The Miracle Worker" has coached eight national teams. His time with the then-MetroStars, in the last year under the old shootout rule, saw them finish dead last in MLS.

4. Ruud Gullit

LA Galaxy (2007-08)
All-time Record: 6-8-5

The longtime Dutch international led Chelsea to an FA Cup title as a player-manager in 1997. As an MLS manager (whose hiring was reportedly orchestrated by David Beckham's management team), Gullit clashed with players and struggled with league salary and roster rules and failed to last a full season.

3. Carlos Queiroz

New York/New Jersey MetroStars (1996)
All-time Record: 12-12-0

Queiroz, who coached Portugal's national team and Sporting Clube de Portugal before coming to MLS, was the MetroStars' second coach during the league's inaugural season. He replaced Eddie Firmani after eight games, posted a .500 mark the rest of the way and then departed. He went on to manage Real Madrid for a spell, and has coached four national teams.

Currently: Managing the Iran national team.

2. Patrick Vieira

New York City FC (2016 - present)
All-time Record: 13-9-9

When Vieira replaced Jason Kreis after NYCFC's inaugural season in 2015, observers questioned whether the long-time Arsenal star, who won a World Cup title with France in 1998, could make it in MLS with no prior managerial experience. Vieira has his team in the 2016 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs and challenging for an Eastern Conference title, so we're going to go out on a pretty thick limb here and say that he's making it just fine.

1. Carlos Alberto Parreira

New York/New Jersey MetroStars (1997)
All-time Record: 13-19-0

Parreira is the only coach in MLS with a World Cup title on his resume, leading Brazil to the 1994 title at the Rose Bowl two years before the league's inaugural season. He joins Milutinovic as the only other coach to take five different national teams to a World Cup and has coached six national teams, leading Brazil to the 2004 Copa America and 2005 Confederations Cup titles. With the MetroStars? One, done and off to manage Saudi Arabia.

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