This FanPost answers the question of possible candidates with actual possible candidates. Some have huge pedigrees. Others are MLS specialists. Some are guys who are just entering coaching. All are focused on people who understand this unique league. It was promoted because it was well written and provides more data to the readership here at Sounder at Heart.
Often when someone suggests Sigi be fired one of the first things asked is, "Well if not Sigi, who would be a better coach"? The answer may seem daunting but if you look around there are plenty of qualified candidates.
Let us assume for one moment that Sigi's job is in severe jeopardy after the Sounders spectacular collapse from a team in pole position for the MLS Supporters Shield to one which is perhaps one last bad result away from missing the 2013 MLS playoffs entirely.
This is not necessarily a radical assumption following the Sounders loss to FC Dallas given the investment the club made in high profile players such as Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins this season. While injuries and national team call ups happened, other teams also had spates of injures and call ups happen yet have been able to be in a better position as of this weekend. For what it is worth Sigi himself takes full responsibility for the cataclysm of the latest results.
Perhaps what is most alarming about the team's current form is the fact that it appears independent of who is on the pitch for the Sounders. If it is not the players then it must be something else. Lack of motivation? Lack of leadership? Poor training techniques leading to more frequent injuries? Mental fragility? All of the above?
If it is any of the above then that is down to the job Joe Roth, Adrian Hanauer and company have given one Sigmund Schmid. And as the old adage goes, "You can't fire the players, but you can fire the coach."
With that adage in mind, I've restricted this list to candidates who are familiar with MLS having either coached or played in the league. After all, the amount of coaches with no MLS experience who have done well in MLS can be counted on one hand, with a couple fingers left over. If one is willing to think outside of the box and look further afield I'm sure you might find others.
I have also assumed that if Sigi Schmid were to go then our scout (and Sigi's son) Kurt Schmid would likely be leaving as well. So with that in mind I have kept a keen eye out for coaches with potential international scouting connections.
The first is no surprise and these candidates are arranged in no particular order.
Rumored to be leaving Salt Lake and has offers from NYCFC and another unnamed MLS club according to MLSSoccer.com - Is that other club us? If Joe Roth and company want Kreis they will have to open up the checkbook as a report from NBC Sports suggests NYCFC and RSL have done just that:
Sources say RSL’s offer already on the table would put Kreis among the three highest paid MLS managers.
However, if for whatever reason Jason Kreis is out of reach there may be other suitable candidates. Let's have a look at them.
Guillermo Barros Schelotto
Currently the at times, fiery coach of Argentina Premier League side Lanus. Schelotto sent Diego Valeri up to our rival Portland and has offers from Columbus, and had talks with NYCFC - He knows how to win in MLS and has plenty of South American player connections.
If Schelotto were going to come it would likely not be until next summer as he says he is committed to Lanus until then:
I am happy at Lanús and I have a contract until June 2014. Obviously, in the future, of course I would like to return to MLS. But in this moment, the only thing I'm thinking of is Lanús.
Former manager of Italy, and before that he was a former New York/New Jersey Metrostars player. As such Donadoni would be an intriguing possibility. He won the 2006 World Cup as the manager of Italy and has managed Serie-A clubs such as Napoli, Parma, Livorno and Genoa among others. Most importantly he knows MLS, having played for New York. Again, Roth and company would need to crack the checkbook open wide as he is currently the head coach of Parma.
Won several titles with DC United as a player but did not do well in his only coaching experience in Bolivia. Might be worth a look if nothing else than as an assistant. The man knows what it takes as a former player to win in the league and had fire and heart. Similar to Jason Kreis, he might look to build a team that takes on his personality as a player. He has good connections with Bolivia's well regarded Tahuichi Academy (which developed both he and Jaime Moreno among others) which may be useful in finding the next Fredy Montero. When MLSSoccer.com recently asked him recently why he was not more involved with DC United, perhaps as part of the coaching staff, he seemed somewhat interested in a return to MLS:
I have a lot of love for D.C. and their fan base. But I do understand that is not an obligation from anyone for me to be there. I have a lot of respect for ‘Benito’ [head coach Ben Olsen] – we have always had a great friendship and will always respect him. While he is in charge, I will always support him.
Currently the coach of Egypt but how likely that remains so is up for question after a 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Ghana most likely have put to bed Egypt's dreams of a trip to Brazil for next year's FIFA World Cup. While it is likely Bradley could look for a new challenge, perhaps another national team or a European club there's always a chance that he and his wife might want to return home after spending a considerable and likely stressful time abroad. Bob Bradley won MLS Cup in 1998 in Chicago's first year of existence. He also won two Lamar Hunt US Open Cups as Chicago's coach in 1998 and 2000. And of course, he won the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup with the USA and took the USA to the final of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup. An NBC Sports article suggests now might be the time for Bradley to return, albiet to Chivas USA of all places. Surely Seattle could offer him a bit more than Chivas?
This Portuguese manager seems to tick all of the right boxes. He is familiar with the league having managed the NY/NJ Metrostars in the league's inaugural year of 1996. He has also successfully managed Portugal and is the current manager of Iran who have just qualified for the World Cup in Brazil next year. His managerial career reads like a travelogue for the most interesting manager in the world with stops in Japan where he coached J-League side Nagoya Grampus Eight, the United Arab Emirates whose national team he managed from 1998-1999. He did the same for South Africa's national team from 2000-2002 and he managed European club sides Sporting Lisbon (Fredy Montero's new home) and Real Madrid where he won the Spanish Supercup in 2003. He also served as an assistant coach to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United not once but twice.
Like Marco Etcheverry he won titles with DC United as a player. He is currently DC United's U-23 coach, his only coaching experience. That said, he has plenty of connections throughout the league and in Bolivia. Again, like Etcheverry, he might seem like a better candidate for an assistant coach role.
Some fans may remember him as the coach of the US Men's National Team during the 1994 FIFA World Cup. He also coached the NY/NJ Metrostars from 1998-1999 after coaching Nigeria. He has also coached extensively throughout CONCACAF. He was Mexico's national team coach from 1983-1986 and from 1995-1997, he also coached Mexican club sides Veracruz, Tecos UAG and UNAM Pumas. He was the coach of the national team of Costa Rica in 1990, Honduras from 2003-2004 and Jamaica from 2006-2007. So he is familiar with the region and the conditions, officiating and travel throughout. Beyond CONCACAF he has also coached in Europe for Italian Serie-A side Udinese, in South America for Argentina Premier League side San Lorenzo and in the Middle East for Qatari club Al Sadd SC as well as Iraq's national team in 2009. He also coached China. He is fluent in English, Spanish and French as well as his native Serbian. All of which may come in handy in a league such as MLS where players come from all over the globe. He no doubt has plenty of scouting connections abroad as well.
Gallardo became DC United's first Designated Player in the same role as Columbus's Schelotto when he arrived from French Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain. While the exciting attacking midfielder was highly skilled he was hacked a lot and just as often injured. Following winning the 2008 US Open Cup with DC United he returned to Argentina to play a third time for River Plate before departing to play a season for Uruguayan club Nacional where he retired. Days after retiring he was hired as the club's new coach and he guided them to a league championship in his very first year at the helm. Gallardo has played in big games for both club and country. He was on both Argentina's 1998 and 2002 FIFA World Cup teams. He played for Monaco and PSG in Europe and River and Nacional in South America. He no doubt still has some connections on both continents. There's a chance that he and Mauro Rosales may have crossed paths at one point in the past as well.
Please keep in mind this is just a quick list I came up with. I left off some other notable candidates like Preki (who recently took a job with USL's Sacramento Republic FC), Mo Johnson, Steve Nichol, Paul Mariner, Chelis (aka José Luis Sánchez Solá) and Eric Wynalda since they seemed like bigger gambles than any of the above, despite their MLS experience.
It also should be kept in mind that many coaches's national team contracts expire after next summer's FIFA World Cup. Some of the guys above are coaching national teams but depending on how things go could become available next year. With that in mind perhaps the best course of action might be to make Brian Schmetzer the interim coach until that point were the trigger to be pulled on Sigi.
What are your thoughts on the candidates above? Do you have another candidate not on this list? Let me know in the comments below.