Five MLS teams remain without a head coach as Thanksgiving week comes to a close in the United States and the winter holiday season looms. Here’s a quick rundown of the latest on those vacancies.
Chicago Fire FC
The big recent event for the Men in Red is their dramatic rebrand, unveiled last week, featuring a new crest, tweaked color scheme and the swapping of “Soccer Club” for “Football Club” in their official moniker. That’s left relatively little media coverage or public discussion of their coaching vacancy, which opened up with the dismissal of Veljko Paunovic and his entire staff on Nov. 13.
All that said, given the relatively small number of vacancies around the league, could Fire FC be one of the teams who reportedly reached out to former NYCFC boss Domenec Torrent? More on that in a moment …
Inter Miami CF
After owner of the flashy new expansion side Jorge Mas told MLSsoccer.com during the Expansion Draft that the club had selected its new manager and would reveal the choice, reports surfaced revealing that former NYCFC boss Patrick Vieira is the leading candidate.
River Plate profe and former MLS player Marcelo Gallardo had been linked to Miami, but more recent reporting suggests the one-time D.C. United man is not in the running.
Speaking at the Soccerex convention this past week, Mas revealed that recenty fired Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino won't be Miami's new coach, but that he is a subject of “huge admiration” on Mas’ part and possibly a target for a role at Inter in future years.
New York City FC
Some might’ve expected the Cityzens to have brought Giovanni van Bronckhorst on board by now, but the Dutchman still remains just a subject of reports for now.
In fact, NYCFC have bid farewell to more key staffers than they’ve welcomed in November, as their sporting director and first-ever employee Claudio Reyna departed for a similar post at Austin FC, who will enter MLS in 2021. David Lee was promoted from technical director to take over Reyna’s role.
Intriguingly, former NYCFC coach Dome Torrent “has been contacted by several MLS teams – and he's listening,” according to a new report from journalist Glenn Crooks. If we assume that only teams with vacancies reached out to Torrent, there’s only four clubs who could’ve given him consideration: Chicago, Miami, Orlando and Salt Lake. Hmm...
Orlando City SC
The Lions have repeatedly been connected to former FC Dallas honcho Oscar Pareja and that chatter heated up last week after his current side, Club Tijuana, lost their final game of the Liga MX Apertura season to Club Leon to effectively clinch their failure to qualify for the Mexican top flight’s liguilla, or playoffs.
Following that, Pareja and Xolos officially parted ways just a few days ago. And a recent report from journalist Cesar Luis Merlo claims Orlando have offered the Colombian a multi-year contract on a bigger wages than he earned at Tijuana.
Club Tijuana and Óscar Pareja have parted ways by mutual agreement.— Xolos (@xolos_en) November 26, 2019
We wish Óscar and his technical staff the best of luck in future endeavors. pic.twitter.com/k3loAs6xSb
“Papi” led Xolos to eighth place in the 2019 Clausura campaign, after which they lost in the first round of the spring postseason to eventual finalists Leon. They were generally underwhelming this fall, however, weakening Pareja's position.
Pareja worked with Lions executive VP of soccer operations Luiz Muzzi at FCD, where they won a Supporters’ Shield-U.S. Open Cup double in 2016 and shaped the Texans’ academy system into a force to be reckoned with.
Real Salt Lake
Former RSL and NYCFC gaffer Jason Kreis appeared to be a top candidate for the Utah club’s vacant head coach or general manager posts – possibly both – after reports emerged in early November that he’d been interviewed by his old club and had met with owner Dell Loy Hansen.
Last week, however, local TV outlet KSL reported that talks between Kreis and the club “have deteriorated” and “Kreis is no longer in contention for the job(s),” citing an unnamed source with knowledge of the situation.
Kreis is currently coaching the US Under-23 men’s national team as they prepare for 2020 Olympic qualifying and also holds a post on Inter Miami’s technical staff. Aside from interim coach Freddy Juarez, he’s the only specific name to be publicly connected to the Claret-and-Cobalt’s vacancies so far.
Perhaps more encouraging for RSL in the long term, they just welcomed widely-respected Dutchman Arnold Rijsenburg as their new director of academy coaching and longtime player Tony Beltran has been hired as assistant GM.