Frank de Boer - Atlanta United
In his first season as an MLS Manager, Frank de Boer has already led Atlanta United to a pair of trophies, as the team claimed the 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, which earned the club a berth in the 2020 Concacaf Champions League, and the 2019 Campeones Cup, where Atlanta United became the first MLS team to win the international cup. In addition, de Boer has Atlanta battling for the top spot in the Eastern Conference and on pace to become just the fourth defending MLS Cup champion to reach 55 points the following season, and only the second team to do it in the non-shootout era.
Caleb Porter - Columbus Crew SC
Caleb Porter joined Crew SC on January 4, 2019. Despite losing several key players to injuries for long stretches of time – including losing starting leftback Milton Valenzuela and starting playmaker Federico Higuain to season-ending injuries – in his first year at the helm of the team, Porter has managed to build a squad that has only lost once in its last 10 matches while making a playoff push. Notably, under Porter’s leadership, Crew SC is the only team to have defeated defending MLS Cup champions Atlanta United home and away thus far in the 2019 MLS regular season.
Luchi Gonzalez - FC Dallas
Coming through the Academy system, Gonzalez has moved into MLS to rebuild a team's identity and integrate youth involvement and versatility. In his first year and the second youngest active coach in the league, his young lineup has earned him the honors of MLS Coach of the Week on three different occasions. He's helped the club effectively surpass the 2018's Academy product minutes played with more than 10,000 Academy minutes divided between all nine Homegrown players on the roster.
Ben Olsen - D.C. United
With D.C. United firmly in the playoff race following two critical road wins against Montreal and Portland, Olsen continues to be a leading coach in MLS with a 12-10-9 record in 2019. The team had an impressive start to the season, amassing a 5-3-2 record in the opening 10 matches of the year. The Black-and-Red have also been impressive on the road this season with Olsen achieving a 6-6-4 away record; tied for the second-most road wins in MLS. With playoff berth on the horizon, Olsen will have reached the post-season for the sixth time during his coaching tenure.
Bob Bradley - LAFC
Since joining LAFC, Bradley has posted a 35-13-16 record in MLS play, including a league-best 19 wins, 8 road wins, 64 points, 77 goals for, 33 goals against, and +44 goal differential in 2019. The second-winningest active head coach in MLS history led the Club to its second consecutive postseason berth after clinching the first spot of the year on August 17. Since the Club came into the league in 2018, LAFC’s 121 points (57 in 2018, 64 in 2019) in regular season play are the most by any team, while the Club’s 13 losses are also the fewest defeats suffered during that span. LAFC also became the quickest team to reach 100 points in the post-shootout era, doing so in a record-low 53 games (29-11-13).
Guillermo Barros Schelotto - LA Galaxy
LA Galaxy Head Coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto has put the LA Galaxy back on track after the club missed the MLS Cup Playoffs the previous two seasons. Barros Schelotto made an immediate statement in his return to MLS, leading the Galaxy to their best home start since 1996 and their longest win streak since 2014. Barros Schelotto now has the team in Playoff contention with 14 wins on the year – their best mark since the 2015 season. The Galaxy are most recently coming off a seven-goal performance in a 7-2 win over Sporting Kansas City, marking the most goals the club has scored in a single match since 1998.
Adrian Heath - Minnesota United FC
It takes a lot of work for a coach to take over a team in disarray and turn it around. It’s possible the only job harder is building a team from nothing and having the patience to see it through.
When Minnesota United entered MLS in 2017, its fans and the club had to endure some growing pains. The Loons conceded a record number of goals in its first year, then beat that record in its second. But in 2019, under the leadership of Head Coach Adrian Heath, the team has gone from the bottom of the table to near the top.
By adding veterans like Ike Opara and Ozzie Alonso and hitting on surprising draft picks like Chase Gasper and Hassani Dotson, Heath has led the squad as high as second in the Western Conference while also making a run all the way to the Final of the U.S. Open Cup.
The team has only lost once at home this season, including toppling the Timbers to reach the Open Cup Final and a heart-stopping 1-0 win over FC Dallas that ended with a stoppage time goal and a penalty save. On the road, they became the first and so far only team to beat a historic LAFC team at home and came back from 2-0 to defeat reigning champion Houston Dynamo 3-2 in the Open Cup Round of 16.
With the Loons on track to make the playoffs for the first time in MLS, Heath has assembled and gotten the most out of a high-character group with a gritty, blue-collar work ethic. His success this season is a testament to patience and sticking with a vision through ups and downs in order to bring a team from the wilderness to the thick of the playoff hunt.
Bruce Arena - New England Revolution
When Bruce Arena returned to the sideline on June 2 as the league’s winningest active head coach, he took the helm of a 12th-place Revolution side that started the season 2-8-2 with a minus-17 goal differential. Arena helped orchestrate one of the greatest in-season turnarounds in league history, leading the Revs on a 6-0-2 run in his first eight games and becoming the fourth MLS coach to go unbeaten in his first eight games with a club. To date, Arena owns a 7-2-6 record (1.8 points per game) and a plus-10 goal differential with the Revolution. The club’s away results during Arena’s tenure are equally impressive, with points in seven-of-eight road games. That incredible shift in form has propelled the Revolution from the bottom of the Eastern Conference into a playoff position with just four games remaining in the regular season.
Doménec Torrent - New York City FC
New York City FC head coach Doménec Torrent entered 2019 for his first full season in charge after taking over for Patrick Vieira in June of 2018. Despite beginning the season winless in their first six matches, NYCFC has now taken over the top spot in the Eastern Conference. If the Club is able to finish in first place, it will be their first conference championship in Club history and will earn them a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League for the first time. Earlier this season, Torrent led NYCFC to a Club-record 14 match unbeaten run. The 2019 season also saw the furthest run for the Club in the U.S. Open Cup.
Chris Armas - New York Red Bulls
New York Red Bulls head coach Chris Armas is set to lead the Red Bulls into the playoffs for the second-straight season. Armas has kept New York in playoff position in an improved Eastern Conference and has overseen the emergence of forward Brian White, who leads the team in goals, holding midfielder Cristian Casseres Jr., and a host of other young players.
Armas has gotten contributions from the entire roster, to an historic extent. Through 31 games, 26 of 29 field players have seen action in MLS, which is the most in the league. New York is also top of the league for the number of players to contribute offensively. Twenty-one of those 26 field players have tallied a goal or an assist, which includes 18 different goal scorers and 20 different assist makers. 18 different goal scorers is a new franchise record and ties the league record set by D.C. in 2016. On eight separate occasions, Armas' offensive subs have helped grab 14 points with contributions on game-winning or tying goals.
James O’Connor - Orlando City SC
Orlando City SC has seen a dramatic turnaround in James O'Connor first full season at the helm. In 2018 City finished the season with 22 losses and 28 points for the entire campaign while giving up a (at the time) league record for goals given up in a season at 74.
This season, O'Connor has led City to 36 points with three matches remaining in the season, trailing the final playoff spot by just four points. O'Connor also guided City to their farthest Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup run as his club reached the Seminfinals for the first time in franchise history.
In 2019 City's goal differential has drastically improved under O'Connor going from minus 31 in 2018 to minus four this season with three weeks remaining in the campaign.
O'Connor’s club owns a .731 winning percentage when scoring first this season and with a win on Decision Day would tie a franchise record for most wins in a season at home.
Jim Curtin - Philadelphia Union
With a change in style of play at the start of the season that he's never coached before, and under a new sporting director, Jim Curtin has led the Philadelphia Union to their best start in team history. Their 15 wins thus far on the season ties their all-time single-season wins record and their 10 home wins also ties their output from 2017, the club record. With the success at home, the Union have not lost a game at home since May. Furthermore, the Union's 55 goals are the most scored in a single-season in team history. Under Curtin's direction, the Union are sixth in the league in total wins since 2018 (30) and PPG since 2018 (1.59). This season the club has consistently been at the top of the Eastern Conference table, and have spent more time in first place than any other team in the conference. He has been successful despite some major challenges including using a starting striker that had no previous MLS minutes, only one DP who has played more than 1200 minutes, and finally having relied on three different goalies throughout the season. It is the second consecutive season that Curtin has been able to turn a first year MLS striker in to a double digit goal scorer. His successful coaching style has earned Curtin MLS' Coach of the Week five times, as well as a multi-year contract extension during the season.
Giovani Savarese - Portland Timbers
After navigating the longest road trip in MLS history to begin a season (12 games), Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese once again has Portland in contention this season, after leading the club to MLS Cup in his first season at the helm in 2018. Savarese guided the Timbers to the 2018 Western Conference Championship with a 3-2 win on the road against Sporting Kansas City on Nov. 29, 2018, and tied a club record for the wins during the regular season (15) in 2018. Leading into the 2019 campaign, Savarese has qualified for the league final five times in six seasons as a professional head coach.
Freddy Juarez - Real Salt Lake
Juarez is a familiar face within the organization by first directing the Real Salt Lake Academy in Casa Grande, Arizona, prior to being named the head coach of Real Monarchs SLC in 2015. As head coach of the Monarchs he guided a total of 60 games, narrowly missing the USL playoffs in 2016 all while developing several young RSL players on the competitive USL stage. Juarez began as an assistant coach before being tabbed as the Interim Head Coach of the club in 2019.
Matías Almeyda - San Jose Earthquakes
The San Jose Earthquakes made the splash of the offseason by hiring head coach Matías Almeyda, who had previously led Chivas de Guadalajara to five trophies in three years, including the 2018 Concacaf Champions League. Almeyda and the Quakes added just six new players in the offseason, three of which were teenagers, from a 2018 squad that finished with one of the worst records in MLS history. He tasked himself with implementing a completely unique tactical approach, and after the growing pains of a four-match losing streak to open the season, the Quakes became the story of the year.
Brian Schmetzer - Seattle Sounders FC
Schmetzer led Sounders FC to another impressive season in 2019, helming the club to a second place standing in the Western Conference (through September 17). Always dominant at home, Sounders FC earned double-digit home wins for the third consecutive season under Schmetzer, bringing his regular-season home record to 36-8-12 since taking over in July of 2016.
Peter Vermes - Sporting Kansas City
Peter Vermes, the longest tenured coach in MLS and the league's all-time leader in games coached for one club, is in his 11th season as Sporting Kansas City manager with more than 400 matches on the sideline for Sporting. He was named the first-ever MLS Sporting Executive of the Year by his peers in January and led Sporting to the Concacaf Champions League semifinals, the best showing of any MLS club in this year's competition. Vermes oversees all soccer operations for Sporting KC, including the Sporting KC Academy which was named MLS Academy of the Year in 2019.
Greg Vanney - Toronto FC
Vanney has led Toronto FC through several early season injuries and international call-ups across 2019 to keep TFC in the thick of the playoff race throughout the season. Including an impressive unbeaten run in all competitions through the month of August and into September. In his sixth season with the club, Vanney reached the 200-match milestone earlier this season and holds every coaching record at the club.
Marc Dos Santos - Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Marc Dos Santos was appointed as Whitecaps FC head coach in November 2018, bringing over a decade’s worth of coaching experience at the professional and amateur levels, including stops in Portugal, Canada, Mozambique, Brazil, and the United States.
During his first season as head coach, the dual citizen of Canada and Portugal, completely rebuilt the roster to establish a foundation of younger core players.