Assessing The New Wave Of MLS Head Coaches

Assessing The New Wave Of MLS Head Coaches

A fresh MLS season kicks into gear in early April and as ever there are a host of new head coaches for fans to cast an eye over.

In this article we take a look at some of the most high-profile hires that were made during the offseason, to see which head coaches are likely to flop and which ones might just become franchise legends.

Will any of these former players make the grade as MLS head coaches?

Gabriel Heinze – Atlanta United

All the talk before the new Major League Soccer season has been about David Beckham hiring his old mate Phil Neville to come and take the reins at Inter Miami, despite the former Man Utd utility man not having upset the odds too many times as a manager.

However, Neville is far from the only ex-Man Utd star to take charge at an MLS franchise this season. Argentinian defensive stalwart, Gabriel Heinze, was installed as head coach of Atlanta United just before Christmas having cut his teeth managing the likes of Godoy Cruz, Argentinos Juniors, and Vélez Sarsfield.

Heinze has shown promise as a manager without ever setting the world alight. He helped second-tier side Argentinos Juniors gain promotion and also boasted a winning record at Vélez Sarsfield, whose young squad he did well to nurture.

So far three seasons is the maximum amount of time he has stayed at one club, and he only has a two-year contract at Atlanta.

After Atlanta failed to qualify for the playoffs last season, the smart money will probably be on Heinze having a tough season or two in Georgia, but the club will be hoping the highly-rated Argentine coach can turn their fortunes around.

Gerhard Struber – New York Red Bulls

Whereas many MLS managers get their jobs by virtue of having appeared in the highest level of the sport, this Austrian manager did things the old-fashioned way, working his way up through coaching junior teams to eventually become the top man at English club Barnsley.

During his one season in the English Championship, Struber somehow pulled off an impossible escape, helping Barnsley avoid relegation.

This turned the heads of his former employers Red Bull, who rather than installing him as coach at Red Bull Salzburg thought he would be better suited to the task at their New York franchise.

The Red Bull Arena in New Jersey is a far cry from Barnsley’s Oakwell Stadium, but soccer fans from The Garden State should not be put off from backing their new head coach to succeed.

After all, Red Bull paid Barnsley a handsome sum to extract him from his contract there, showing the confidence they have in the man’s abilities. When they are not cheering Struber’s boys on in person, fans and footy customers from New Jersey can go here to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to their team’s playoff prospects.

Struber is probably the most likely of all these new head coaches to do well because he has learnt the job from the ground up.

Phil Neville – Inter Miami

Of course, we could not pen this article without giving proper mention to Phil Neville who, despite enduring a frustrating period as England women’s team manager, has now landed one of the most exciting jobs in club football.

Hopefully for Neville, his stint in a foreign league does not go the same way as his brother Gary’s did, with the older Neville brother having a nightmare spell in charge of Valencia in Spain. 

The worry is that, with no prior knowledge of club management, Neville might find himself quickly out of his depth in Miami, and it could be awkward getting fired by his good friend and Miami team owner, David Beckham.