Passover came to certain quarters of Los Angeles this week. I'm talking about MLS Passover, of course, where the MLS schedule came out on Wednesday, but of course did not include the defunct Chivas USA or nascent LAFC. The plan is for LAFC to begin in 2017, so...just over two years to go! *Gulp*
Of course, even without CUSA's unique brand of crazy, there's plenty of action happening around the league right now, especially in the current crazytown epicenter, New York. Between the PR fiasco concerning Frank Lampard and NYCFC, and the New York Red Bulls canning their popular coach just before the season prep really kicks off, there's plenty of intrigue, and, uh, more.
Let's jump into our latest mailbag. Thanks to everybody for their questions this week!
1. Would LAFC fans prefer an American or foreign coach and why? - Altay Tascioglu
This is a really intriguing question. The knee-jerk reaction is probably to say, "The track record of foreign coaches in MLS is poor, and so it's gotta be an American coach." And in most circumstances, that's probably right. Even though for some teams coaches don't play as big of a role in player personnel decisions as we're led to believe, there's still the matters like scouting players in MLS, understanding the rather-unique travel demands and March-to-October (or November or December) schedule. It's going to be interesting to see how a true newcomer to MLS, new Houston Dynamo coach Owen Coyle, does this season, and also how long he lasts. If he can make it work, then maybe we'll see some more foreign coaches joining the ranks here.
Of course, it's going to be really interesting to see who LAFC taps as their first head coach. I assume they are watching Jason Kreis and NYCFC very, very closely to see how that works out, both because the context for NYCFC is in many ways analogous to what LAFC's going to be doing in a couple years, but also to see how the most successful "Homegrown" coach to date does in a bigger environment from comfy Salt Lake City.
Could LAFC swing for the fences and go for a truly big name foreign coach? I wouldn't rule it out altogether, especially when one wonders who the next-best candidate to pick off an existing MLS team would be. Bruce Arena won't leave the Galaxy, and promising works-in-progress Jay Heaps and Ben Olsen are tightly connected to the teams that they currently work for. Oscar Pareja likely won't leave Dallas now that he's back in his American home, so...Jose Mourinho? Hey, the guy has gushed over his love for Los Angeles in the past, and while he recently said Chelsea would be his last stop, we know he gets the itch to try new leagues. It's pie in the sky, of course, but imagine the global impact he would make if LAFC somehow got the coup and hired him.
2. Your all-time top 3 MLS coaches? - ZuniJ (@ZuniJ)
Sure, it's fresh after both saw success last year, but of course Arena and Sigi Schmid go on the Mount Rushmore of MLS coaches, hands down. Both remain relevant despite working in MLS for most of its history and its evolution over the years, and they are the most decorated coaches and have brought their teams the most silverware, finding success in multiple stops (D.C. United and LA Galaxy for Arena, Galaxy, Columbus Crew and Seattle Sounders for Schmid).
Beyond that, I think the third name in the top three is a true stumper. Dominic Kinnear knows how to keep his teams good, and seems to do more with what he has than most coaches. But he's a pragmatist, and nobody would rave over the kind of soccer his teams tend to play. But is that his fault? Bob Bradley is another candidate, who led an expansion side (Chicago Fire) to an MLS Cup title and who helped revive Chivas USA after a terrible debut season, albeit with no actual silverware. Bob Gansler had a good run with Kansas City, but hasn't been a head coach since 2006, which is practically the ice age compared to MLS now. Jason Kreis did well on a shoestring budget with Real Salt Lake, but only ended up winning one major trophy with them. Peter Vermes has assembled an impressive turnaround for Sporting Kansas City, and won multiple trophies in recent years.
If there was a gun to my head, I'd probably opt for Bradley, though he also hasn't actually coached in MLS since 2006. The point is, I think the third spot is wide open and probably one of the younger guys will be making a case for it in the coming years.
3. NYRB or NYCFC biggest dumpster fire not named Rapids? - Kyle Nowotny (@ElNaranja22)
4. What ended up happening to Eric Avila? Did Guadalajara decide they didn't want him? - Frank Gomez (@FrankatGomez)
There's been media silence as far as I can tell regarding Avila since early December, when he emerged at Chivas' training. No official word from Chivas or Santos Laguna about him, and no word from Avila himself on his current whereabouts, beyond a few pics of him celebrating New Year's Eve with MLSers Brek Shea, Lee Nguyen, and his presumable agent Spencer Wadsworth.
Liga MX begins its season today, so one would think he would have had a transfer wrapped up by now. From the looks of it, he may not end up playing in Mexico at all this season, but stay tuned.
5. What's one thing about the commute from San Diego to Carson that we should know? - Mike McGrew (@CincySporting)
You often get the favorable traffic. On the weekends, folks from LA drive down to San Diego or Tijuana, and so southbound traffic on Saturday afternoons is usually bad, while northbound traffic on Sunday evenings is heavy. But for MLS games on Saturdays and Sundays, going from San Diego to Carson is actually better than driving the other way around. That's not to say that traffic is always good, and depending on traffic and where you drive from in SD, the drive is still anywhere from 90 minutes to more than three hours, but hey, at least the worst traffic is generally going the other way.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!