Marcelo Gallardo - with River - coaching gesture

MLS coaching vacancies update: Miami, Chicago and NYCFC still searching

The MLS coaching updates have come quickly in recent weeks, as Freddy Juarez had his interim tag removed at Real Salt Lake and Oscar Pareja returned to MLS as Orlando City seek their first Audi MLS Cup Playoff appearance in club history.

But there are still three vacancies that clubs are eagerly looking to fill as the winter holidays loom. Here’s a rundown:

Chicago Fire FC

A transformative offseason continues for Chicago, ranging from their rebrand to moving downtown to Soldier Field, all with new owner Joe Mansueto at the helm. But the club remains without a manager after Veljko Paunovic and his entire staff were let go on Nov. 13.

A recent report from The Athletic indicating the club will hire a new sporting director leaves open the possibility that the selection of a head coach might not come until the sporting director is in place.

One name linked to the managerial job is former US men's national team defender Steve Cherundolo, also according to a The Athletic. He's worked extensively with Bundesliga sides Hannover and Stuttgart since retiring in 2014. 

Whoever lands there has a tall task ahead, but also perhaps the luxury of a relatively low bar to exceed. The Fire made the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs just twice (2012, 2017) this decade and haven’t won a trophy since lifting the U.S. Open Cup in 2006.

Inter Miami CF

All expansion clubs build from scratch, and the manager’s seat is still empty as Miami constructs for 2020. That hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from spinning at mach speed, though, with everyone from Patrick Vieira to River Plate manager Marcelo Gallardo linked. 

The big update on this front comes regarding Gallardo, who this week told his River Plate players he will return to the Argentine powers in January, ending speculation on multiple continents he was about to make a move.

Whoever takes the job, they’ll enter a roster that’s been constructed by tried-and-true executive Paul McDonough. There are MLS-proven talents like goalkeeper Luis Robles and midfielder Lee Nguyen, as well as young South American prospects like defender Christian Makoun and Matias Pellegrini, the club’s sole Designated Player so far.

Another rumor that swirled surrounded Mauricio Pochettino after he was relieved of his duties at Tottenham Hotspur in November. But Jorge Mas poured cold water on that at the Soccerex convention, saying he has “huge admiration” for the Argentine but that he would not be joining the club anytime soon.

New York City FC

Dutch manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst, who recently joined the City Football Group, has been heavily linked to NYCFC, but nothing concrete has yet surfaced on that front. A report earlier this month from The Athletic poured cold water on van Bronckhorst joining NYCFC.

So, the question remains: Who will fill the shoes left behind by Domenic Torrent? It represents a massive order of business for David Lee, who was promoted to sporting director after Claudio Reyna left for expansion side Austin FC.

The eventual manager will have a high bar to meet, as the Cityzens finished second in the 2019 Supporters’ Shield race and topped the Eastern Conference standings. Many of their big-name players are under contract, too, so the roster is largely plug and play.


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