Who Will Lead the Revs in the Pivotal 2012 Campaign?
As Revolution president Brian Bilello's self-imposed 7 day deadline approaches, we here at The Bent Musket wanted to take a look at a few of the "serious" names on the short list of possible candidates. With Paul Mariner re-upping his contract with Toronto FC (amazingly, Mariner re-signed almost IMMEDIATELY after meeting with the Revs) New England was left with only a few truly solid choices that made sense, followed by quite a few question marks. We'll break down the list of possibilities, leading with the best options to lead the club, straight down to the downright comical candidates (someone cue Ray Hudson!)
Steve Ralston: The Revolution legend is currently on the coaching staff in Houston, preparing for MLS Cup 2011. This model of promoting former players has worked, most recently in Salt Lake with Jason Kreis, and also in D.C. with Ben Olsen. A familiar face that would be an extremely popular choice, and my odds-on favorite selection.
Jay Heaps: Pretty much the same reasoning behind Heaps as a candidate as well. The former defender still makes his home in New England, runs soccer camps, and is currently an analyst/color commentator for Comcast Sports Net for the Revolution matches. Heaps doesn't seem to be as popular a choice as Ralston, but would certainly fit the same mold.
Taylor Twellman: Rounding out our former player category is the golden child of New England Revolution folklore, Taylor Twellman. Currently enjoying his time as one of the more recognizable faces in American Soccer broadcasting, Twellman doesn't seem too keen on jumping into the fray as a manager just yet, but with his deep roots here and his admitted love for the organization, it wouldn't be a total shock if he were appointed.
Brian Bliss: A popular name among most coaching vacancy conversations. Bliss is currently the Technical Director with the Columbus Crew and has little head coaching experience, save a for a brief interim stint with Kansas City after Gansler stepped down. A solid choice with a great background and pedigree (44 caps with the USMNT and several years in Europe) and with the Revolution having nowhere to go but up, this could be a great first full time opportunity for him.
Curt Onalfo: Onalfo is a good dark horse in this race. Absolutely chock-full of coaching experience in the United States, both at the club and national level (Onalfo has spent time with both the U-23 and Senior USMNT). Currently working as an assistant for the L.A. Galaxy, Onalfo seems primed to receive another shot as a head coach in MLS, and New England could certainly use his experience.
Carlos de los Cobos: A Mexican-born manager seems slightly far-fetched, but one with the resumé of de los Cobos would certainly help make it a reality. Most recently the architect of a turnaround with the Chicago Fire, this former Mexican league star has coached in both the Mexican and American domestic top flights, as well as the El Salvadorian National team.
Teitur Thordarson: Most recently the head coach of the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps, Thordarson was unceremoniously fired early on in the season after getting off to a slow start (quite frankly, what did management expect from their first campaign in the top flight?). Thordarson would be a nice selection, as he too comes with a great coaching resumé with stops all over the Nordic circle, and honestly, it'd be great to have a head coach with the name "Teitur".
Dave Sarachan: The current Galaxy assistant is most well-known for leading the solid Chicago Fire teams from 2002-2007, and is among those names who seem primed to step back into the spotlight as a head coach after stints as an assistant. Sarachan is very familiar with the MLS structure, and has shown he can be successful at the top level.
Denis Hamlett: Another member of the Chicago Fire coaching tree, Hamlett currently serves as an assistant in Vancouver. The Costa Rican born Hamlett could certainly help the Revs tap into more of a latin market, and given his successes in MLS as a coach (back to back Eastern finals and an appearance in the SuperLiga finals as well) would be a surprising, but solid selection.
Preki: One man. One name. Most recently the head coach of Toronto FC, Preki is an incredibly popular and well-known man among American soccer circles, and would make a splash if he were chosen in New England. Familiar with the league, as well as the scouting circuit, the former US International would certainly do well if given the right resources.
Colin Clarke: Clarke is mostly known in the lower leagues of American soccer, leading the Puerto Rican Islanders of the NASL to several appearances in the CONCACAF Champions League as well as garnering league successes as well. The Northern Irish-born Clarke has done well in the lower tiers, but whether that would translate to MLS successes remains to be seen. At least Revs fans could still have a coach that they couldn't understand when he spoke.
John Murphy: A familiar face in Foxboro, Murphy has held several positions in the organization, from Goalkeepers coach to Director of Youth Development. Murphy is spoken of very highly among New England Revolution circles, whether it be from former players like Taylor Twellman, or coaches, like former boss Steve Nicol. Murphy wouldn't be a big name splash, but would certainly hold the locker room, as he has the respect and admiration of almost everyone in the organization.
Steve Sampson: Pedigree. That's all you can think bout with Sampson. Lead the United States to the World Cup as manager in 1998 and also coached the Galaxy as recently as 2005, when they won the U.S. Open Cup and MLS Cup double. No arguing the contributions and accolades this man has achieved, and perhaps it's the right time for him to return to coaching in MLS.
Richie Williams: Never given full control of an MLS franchise, Williams showed promise in his interim stints with the New York Red Bulls. Williams was unceremoniously fired from his post as an assistant with New York, a move that was widely panned by MLS pundits, and his head coach potential has been discussed on many occasions. The only road block here is that Williams is now the head coach of the US U-18 squad and may not be interested in returning to club-level coaching at the moment.
It's difficult to see who could actually come out of this vast search. It's unclear what the new manager's responsibilities and "powers" will be within the organization. However, with the club reorganizing and streamlining its upper-managerial team, it seems the roles of each person will be better defined. Brian Bilello did mention that he would have news on the search in seven days, and that time period is all but over. Look for more on this developing story throughout the upcoming week.