- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On July 23, 2009
- 8 Comments
- Bob Bradley, Bruce Arena, Curt Onalfo, Dominic Kinnear, Geoff Reid, Jason Kreis, Preki, Sigi Schmid, Steve Nicol
Editor’s Note: Geoff Reid appears on WVHooligan.com each week. Today he returns to the defense of American managers high and low. Feel free to give him your thoughts below.
In 2009, there has been pieces written on certain web sites and podcasts hosts on shows have said the American player is hurting because coaches within MLS are not up to standard. The big evidence is not one has gone overseas and been successful.
This analogy is completely wrong and I will speak out in Defense of American Coaches.
It took a long time for an American player to play in a top league in Europe and eventually Paul Caligiuri became the first to earn a contract in the Bundesliga in the 1980ís with Hamburg firstly, then Meppen and later Hansa Rostock and finally Freiburg before leaving to help kick start MLS in 1996. It was a milestone for American soccer and so were that generation of players. Now to compare that with American managers it is a completely different kettle of fish in that there are much more player opportunities then head coaching ones. The one similarity is that itís a major stepping stone once the first coach can do it.
The next big argument thatís been vented against this subject is with the National Team in that some folks think that the USSF should hire a foreign coach instead of an American one. Why? They wonít know the system unless theyíve been in this country a number of years. Steve Nicol would be a perfect example of a foreign coach to take the National Team job because heís been in the country since 1999 and clearly by looking back at his draft pick choices down the years he understands the American player. However, looking at current American coaches that could take the job there is plenty out there and once Bob Bradleyís reign comes to an end for one reason or another when it does, the top two choices are simple: Dominic Kinnear and Sigi Schmid.
Kinnear has demonstrated why he is arguably the top American coach around at the moment. His club is challenging for honors on a consistent basis, he has a system that is tried and trusted and has created a winning culture at the Houston Dynamo. Part of me wonders if Kinnear was the brains behind the San Jose Earthquakes two titles in 2001 and 2003 when he was the assistant to Frank Yallop? The Dynamo never seems to lack depth and for a club that competes on multiple fronts as they have done the last three or four years you need good depth where players know their roles. Kinnear also knows what type of player he wants in his team. Unlike some clubs in MLS who think signing a Designated Player will push them over the top, Kinnear just needs to add a piece to the puzzle and has publicly stated they donít want to just sign a DP for the hell of it, only if he can help the Dynamo win.
As for Sigi Schmid, I think itís fair to say the Galaxy havenít been the same since he left although Steve Sampson did win the MLS Cup in 2005, but with Schmidís team. Schmid getting fired when his club was top of the Western Conference is another topic for a another day. Schmid has been a winner wherever heís been whether itís at the college level with the UCLA Bruins or at the professional level at the Galaxy, Columbus Crew and now Seattle Sounders. He has also coached the U-20ís in between his stints at the Galaxy and Crew.
Both coaches know the system here in this country from the very depthís of youth football to the very top level.
Other top American managers? Bob Bradley I will defend all day and all night and am happy the critics have gone into hiding for now. Bruce Arena is another one I am happy to defend because heís accomplished so much and very quietly, at least until recently, has steadied the Galaxy ship by building from the back and adding steal to the spine of the team. All of a sudden, it seems Bruce hasnít ďlost itĒ since 2006 as critics have suggested.
Preki has seemed to make the transition from player to assistant to manager very well and has a good eye for players has he has proven this year with the additions of Mariano Trujillo, Bojan Stepanovic and Eduardo Lillingston. Curt Onalfo also seems a very good young up and coming manager who has done well in Kansas City. Lets also not forget Jason Kreis who is learning the ropes of club management in Salt Lake City pretty well and has Real Salt Lake competing every game which the same couldnít be said under John Ellinger.
I also havenít mentioned any managers in the USL which is a great exam for all young managers to learn the trade. If MLS has shown us anything as a league, itís shown us what separateís the good managers from the oneís who are less talented. Itís always easier as a manager when you have a massive load of money to spend, but with a salary cap involved, it takes a more creative mind to put your team over the top. This just shows a lot of American managers are better then a good number of their European counterparts. The scouting system needs to improve without a doubt and it is with some of the Latin players that have been signed in the last few years.
Eventually an American manager will manage in a top European division. It might be somewhere like the SPL first, and thatís fine. My money right now is on Kinnear.