The coaching candidates

Within a month or two, the first-ever Sounders FC coach will have been anointed. The Sounders front office has a list of potential candidates, but they won't tell anyone who is on it, save the one blindingly obvious possibility. It might not be current Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer, however, because they 'want someone with MLS experience.' If he doesn't get the head job, I fully expect Schmetzer to be named as assistant coach. With that in mind, here are my top 5 most-likely coaching candidates for the Sounders.

Current job: Head coach, Chivas USA
Northwest connection: 1 year with Tacoma Stars, good friend of Brian Schmetzer
Positives: Knows MLS extremely well and would have great insight on current players in the league, would work well with Schmetzer as an assistant coach, is relatively young, could coach an attacking style.
Negatives: Controversial among Chivas fans – has been criticized for tactical decisions and a perceived inability to motivate. His squad has underperformed this year.
Random fact: Is the only 2-time MLS MVP (’97. ’03) and the all-time MLS leader in points.

Brian Schmetzer
Current job: Head coach, Seattle Sounders (USL)
Northwest connection: Born here, grew up here, played here (1980-83, 85), coached here (1988-present)
Positives: Knows the city of Seattle and many Sounders players, already works well with GM Adrian Hanauer, has proven USL track record of success, is loved by USL Sounders fans.
Negatives: Reportedly the Sounders FC want someone with MLS experience, and Schmetzer has none. Might not be able to deal with the egos of big-money star players.
Random fact: Before coaching the Sounders, he simply ran his construction business and coached his son’s youth team.

Fernando Clavijo
Current job: nope
Most recent job: Head coach, Colorado Rapids
Northwest connection: Coached Seattle Seadogs (1995-97)
Positives: Has coached with Schmetzer before, is good at developing young players.
Negatives: Was not very good in his time with Colorado, little team success, perennial underachievers. Not a good tactician. Hated by Rapids fans.
Random fact: Once coached an indoor team called the Florida ThunderCats. I kid you not.

Peter Nowak
Current job: Assistant coach, U.S. National Team
Northwest connection: none
Positives: Great all-around coach, knows MLS and US players extremely well, won an MLS Cup in 3 years as D.C. United head coach.
Negatives: Underperformed as coach of USA Olympic team this summer. Probably isn’t interested in Sounders job.
Random fact: Captained the Polish national team for 3 years in his playing days.

Paul Mariner
Current job: Assistant coach, New England Revolution
Northwest connection: none
Positives: Regarded as the top assistant in MLS, works very well with players, has stated his desire for the Sounders job, would provide an opportunity for countless ‘Seattle Mariner’ puns.
Negatives: Has not been a head coach at a level higher than youth soccer, might not be able to coach the attacking style of soccer Seattle wants.
Random fact: Scored the winning goal for England in a do-or-die match that sent them to the 1982 World Cup.

Other possible candidates include Crew coach Sigi Schmidt and Houston assistant John Spencer, but I don’t think either of them will take the job. Sigi is probably happy with league-leading Columbus, and Spencer probably would prefer the Colorado job, as he was a fan favorite there in his playing days.

The verdict? I'd prefer Preki or Nowak, but I expect Mariner to be named the head coach eventually. And that's not a bad thing, he's a very strong candidate. But, as always, we will have to wait and see.

1 comment:

GS-1 said...

As I posted over on GOALSeattle, I wonder if we should add John Spencer to the list? He's the assistant with Houston, was offered the Chicago head job then declined for $$$ reasons, and he played alongside Henderson at Colorado in the early 2000's.