UPDATE, Dec. 27: Chicago Fire FC announced the hiring of Raphael Wicky on Friday, reducing the number of coach-less clubs in MLS to just two, though new reports suggest a new name has emerged in the Inter Miami CF coaching search.
Could a game of managerial musical chairs in Europe have a knock-on effect on head coaching vacancies in Major League Soccer?
It’s far from clear how everything will shake out at this point, but that’s at least a distinct possibility as another week goes by with the coaching jobs at Inter Miami and New York City FC still unfilled.
Here’s a quick rundown.
Inter Miami CF
Miami’s vacancy has been the subject of a deluge of varying, and occasionally conflicting, reports and statements over the past six months.
Inter’s coaching search has seen them linked to a range of names, from Marcelo Gallardo to Santiago Solari and more. Owner Jorge Mas said at last month’s Expansion Draft a selection had been made and would be announced soon, then reiterated as much earlier this week, with a team spokesperson telling MLSsoccer.com’s Jillian Sakovits their choice had not changed since then.
Last week Patrick Vieira appeared to be the hottest name in the mix, with ESPN reporting Miami reached out to Carlo Ancelotti after the Italian veteran was fired by Napoli, only to be outbid by Everton, so the 2020 expansion side now see Vieira as “a more obtainable target, due to his MLS experience in New York and concerns over his position at [French club] Nice,” and are “confident” a deal can be done, perhaps even by the end of the month.
That trail appears to have gone cold, however, and on Friday a new crop of reports popped up connecting Inter to Diego Alonso, the Uruguayan manager who led Monterrey to the 2019 Concacaf Champions League title in impressive fashion before a poor start to this fall's Clausura season led to his firing on Sept. 30.
🚨🚨🚨ALERTA🚨🚨🚨— Elmer Polanco (@PolancoESA) December 27, 2019
Fuentes muy cercanas a @ESPN_JorgeRamos confirman que Diego Alonso @AlonsoDT ,sera el Tecnico del @InterMiamiCF para su primer torneo en #MLS . @ESPNDeportes @delvalle_ESPN pic.twitter.com/tMrXRpYvI3
Alonso, 44 (pictured at top), also won CCL in 2017, as well as the 2016 Clausura title, with Pachuca, and has also coached clubs in Paraguay and his native land. He was also an accomplished striker during his playing days, including stints in Spain's La Liga and four other countries.
New York City FC
It’s been strangely quiet on the NYCFC coaching front. But here’s where Arsenal’s recent managerial change – firing Unai Emery and luring their former player Mikel Arteta (pictured above) over from Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City staff – comes in.
New English reports allege Arteta, who was chosen ahead of Vieira and a range of other candidates, made his move in part because City declined to make him assurances he would be Guardiola’s successor whenever the legendary Spaniard elects to move on.
Those machinations may have been linked to Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s arrival at City Football Group, the company that manages City, NYCFC and the rest of their global network. The Dutchman was reported to be the leading option for NYC’s next boss in the wake of Dome Torrent’s exit shortly after the 2019 MLS season ended.
But that chatter has gone quiet – and with some outlets reporting that van Bronckhorst will be Arteta’s designated successor as Guardiola’s assistant, it’s not hard to imagine how proceedings in Manchester might be affecting decisions in the Bronx. (To add yet another wrinkle, Torrent once occupied the role of Pep’s-right-hand-man just vacated by Arteta and now possibly set for van Bronckhorst, and all of these men share FC Barcelona ties.)
Is your head spinning? Then you’ve caught the spirit of silly season, which will roll on for weeks to come as we count down to the start of MLS preseason on Jan. 11.