Coaches are lightning rods for criticism whether teams win or not. Charlie Manuel's competence is called into question frequently despite marching his Phillies through back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back National League East titles, a franchise record 102-win season, two National League Championships, and a World Series ring. People begin to froth at the mouth when you bring Andy Reid's name up in conversation, and it doesn't make a lick of difference that he's only had a losing record twice in 13 years with the Eagles.
Peter Nowak has been at the helm of the Philadelphia Union for little over 2 years (near the top of the Eastern Conference for most of his second season), yet every one of us could compile an extensive list of things we would have done differently. Four games and one point into the 2012 campaign, there would be pressure on any manager to find results, but there is no reason to believe the Front Office is in a hurry to change direction.
In light of the increasing management discussion bouncing around the series of Philly-based Internet tubes, I was curious to look back on how head coaches in Major League Soccer have fared through the years. How many were one-hit wonders? Which teams are quick with the hook when dust gathers on the trophy case? Does patience really pay off in this league? Hit the jump for a team-by-team history...
Nine different teams and 11 head coaches / managers have lifted the MLS Cup (formerly the Alan I. Rothenberg Trophy and now the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy) through 16 full seasons of trying. Compare that to the 5 teams and 8 managers who have won La Liga in that same span of time - better yet, 3 teams and 4 managers in the Barclay's Premier League since 1996 - and it sure looks like Major League Soccer has been successful in fostering parity.
1998-2002 Bob Bradley (MLS Cup '98, MLS Cup Runners Up '00, USOC '98, '00)
2003-07 Dave Sarachan (MLS Cup Runners Up '03, Supporters' Shield '03, USOC '03, '06)
2008-09 Denis Hamlett
2010-11 Carlos de los Cobos
2011-12 Frank Klopas
1996 Bob Houghton
1996 Roy Wegerle
1997-2000 Glenn Myernick (MLS Cup Runners Up '97)
2001-04 Tim Hankinson
2005-08 Fernando Clavijo
2008-11 Gary Smith (MLS Cup '10)
2012 Oscar Pareja
1996 Timo Liekoski
1996-2001 Tom Fitzgerald
2001-05 Greg Andrulis (Supporters' Shield '04, USOC '02)
2005 Robert Warzycha
2006-08 Sigi Schmid (MLS Cup '08, Supporters' Shield '08)
2009-12 Robert Warzycha (Supporters' Shield '09)
1996-98 Bruce Arena (MLS Cup '96, '97, MLS Cup Runners Up '98, Supporters' Shield '97, USOC '96)
1999-2001 Thomas Rongen (MLS Cup '99, Supporters' Shield '99)
2001-03 Ray Hudson
2004-06 Peter Nowak (MLS Cup '04, Supporters' Shield '06)
2007-09 Tom Soehn (Supporters' Shield '07, USOC '08)
2010 Curt Onalfo
2010-12 Ben Olsen
2006-12 Dominic Kinnear (MLS Cup '06, '07, MLS Cup Runners Up '11, Supporters' Shield '08)
1996-97 Lothar Osiander
1997-99 Octavio Zambrano (Supporters' Shield '98)
1999-2004 Sigi Schmid (MLS Cup '02, Supporters' Shield '02, USOC '01)
2004-06 Steve Sampson (MLS Cup '05, USOC '05)
2006-07 Frank Yallop
2007-08 Ruud Gullit
2008 Cobi Jones
2008-12 Bruce Arena (MLS Cup '11, Supporters' Shield '10, '11 MLS Cup Runners Up '09)
1998 Carlos Cordoba
1999-2000 Ivo Wortmann
2000-01 Ray Hudson (Supporters' Shield '01)
New England Revolution:
1996 Frank Stapleton
1997-98 Thomas Rongen
1999 Walter Zenga
1999 Steve Nicol
2000-02 Fernando Clavijo
2002-11 Steve Nicol (MLS Cup Runners Up '02, '05, '06, '07, Supporters' Shield '05, USOC '07)
2011-12 Jay Heaps
New York Red Bulls / New York-New Jersey MetroStars:
1996 Eddie Firmani
1996 Carlos Queiroz
1997 Carlos Alberto Parreira
1998 Alfonso Mondelo
1998-99 Bora Milutinovic
2000-02 Octavio Zambrano
2003-05 Bob Bradley
2005-06 Mo Johnston
2006 Richie Williams
2006-07 Bruce Arena
2008-09 Juan Carlos Osorio (MLS Cup Runners Up '08)
2009 Richie Williams
2010-12 Hans Backe
2010-12 Peter Nowak
2011-12 John Spencer
Real Salt Lake:
2005-07 John Ellinger
2007-12 Jason Kreis (MLS Cup '09, Supporters' Shield '10)
San Jose Earthquakes Part 1:
1996-97 Laurie Calloway
1997-99 Brian Quinn
1999 Jorge Espinoza
1999-2000 Lothar Osiander
2001-03 Frank Yallop (MLS Cup '01, '03)
2004-05 Dominic Kinnear (Supporters' Shield '05)
San Jose Earthquakes Part 2:
2008-12 Frank Yallop
2009-12 Sigi Schmid (USOC '09, '10, '11)
Sporting Kansas City / Kansas City Wizards
1996-99 Ron Newman
1999 Ken Fogarty
1999-2006 Bob Gansler (MLS Cup '00, MLS Cup Runners Up '04, Supporters' Shield '00, USOC '04)
2006 Brian Bliss
2006-09 Curt Onalfo
2009-12 Peter Vermes
Tampa Bay Mutiny:
1996 Thomas Rongen (Supporters' Shield '96)
1997-98 John Kowalski
1998-2000 Tim Hankinson
2001 Alfonso Mondelo
2001 Perry Van der Beck
I chose not to include tournaments beyond the U.S. Open Cup, though there are a few teams that boast impressive wins and some hardware outside of MLS competition. Teams usually had to do something special in the league to qualify for those tournaments.
Despite the revolving door in Toronto and a permanent spot in the basement of Major League Soccer, they have won the Canadian Championship every year save one since it was started in 2008. That would seem impressive, but the tournament consists of a 4-team bracket between TFC, Impact, Whitecaps, and FC Edmonton...
Chicago Fire and Real Salt Lake were the only expansion teams to win the MLS Cup. Houston Dynamo won a few after moving out of San Jose, but very little changed apart from shirt color when the team was relocated.
Full disclosure: Part of me just wanted to put this together to reflect on New York's sorry, sorry MLS history. 12 managers, no cups!
Ray Hudson didn't win the MLS Cup, as his players were confused by the recurring direction to 'gallop about the park like a herd of 3-legged giraffes.'
Some of these coaches were fired, some resigned, some shifted positions within the organization, and a handful were holding the job down on an interim basis as the team made moves for someone new. A few delivered right out of the blocks, but most took a couple of years to fully implement a system or bring a core of players together that could seal the deal. Were these guys kept around because they were successful, or were they successful because they were kept around? Take a little from Column A and a little from Column B... but if I had to put my money on who will win the 2012 MLS Cup, I'd first narrow it down to the 8 clubs who have had their current manager in place for more than 3 seasons.
Whether or not we agree with the manager's selection of an undersized guy with a high-motor and high football IQ who "loves to play the game" (Reid, Nowak), or we are concerned about his bumbling ways when adjusting the lineup in crucial moments (Manuel, Nowak), it is in our nature as Philadelphians to demand results. In the case of the Union, however, it is still very early and I wouldn't want to become another team with more head coaches than seasons in a league that seems to reward stability at the top.
What do you think? Will Peter Nowak be in charge when the Union win MLS Cup, the U.S. Open Cup, or the Supporters' Shield for the first time? Which MLS coach - past or present - would you want to have on your side in the event of a bench-clearing brawl? I'm torn between John Spencer and Walter Zenga. Has former Philadelphia Kixx star Peter Vermes been in the driver's seat long enough to steer Sporting Kansas City to another trophy? Leave your thoughts below!