New MLS coaches mark new season
Los Angeles FC coach Bob Bradley’s victory over Seattle in the team’s Major League Soccer debut was the second time he’d guided an expansion franchise to victory in its opener. The first was 20 years ago, when he was coach of the Chicago Fire.
Bradley, while not new to MLS overall, is among a group of six coaches embarking on their first season with new teams. Last season was historic for its turnover.
Jay Heaps was let go by New England in September. It followed the dismissals of Pablo Mastroeni from Colorado, and Dominic Kinnear from San Jose. Curt Onalfo from the Galaxy and Jeff Cassar from Real Salt Lake were replaced during the season.
In the offseason, the Timbers abruptly parted ways with Caleb Porter. The Montreal Impact let go of Mauro Biello.
A primer on the league’s new coaches, and how they fared after opening weekend:
BOB BRADLEY, LAFC: Bradley, a former coach of the U.S. men’s national team, is easily the most high profile of the newcomers.
Bradley coached the national team from 2006-11, winning a CONCACAF Gold Cup title in 2007 and three years later became the first American coach in 80 years whose team won a World Cup.
After leaving the U.S. team, Bradley coached Egypt, falling just short of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, then led clubs in Norway Stabaek and France’s Le Havre before landing with Swansea in 2016. He was the first American coach of a Premier League team, although his tenure lasted just 11 games.
Bradley also has MLS experience, leading the expansion Fire to the MLS Cup championship in 1998. He also coached the MetroStars and Chivas USA, the defunct Los Angeles team.
LAFC opened the season with a 1-0 victory over the Sounders in Seattle. Diego Rossi scored early and Bradley’s club hung on for the win.
“I don’t think we showed football-wise what we are capable of but that’s only going to get better. I’m very confident as we build this team that we’re going to see some real football,” Bradley said.
REMI GARDE, MONTREAL IMPACT: Garde was hired as the Impact’s coach and first team director of player personnel in November. The team dismissed Mauro Biello after Montreal finished ninth among the 11 teams in the Eastern Conference at 11-17-6.
Garde coached Lyon from 2011-12 through 2013-14, winning the French Cup in his first season. He was hired by last-place Aston Villa in November 2015 and left the following March with the club still last and headed to relegation at the end of the season.
Garde was a midfielder and defender for Lyon (1987-93), Strasbourg (1993-96) and Arsenal (1996-99).
He lost his opener against Canadian rival Vancouver 2-1 at BC Place last weekend.
“You don’t have so much time to learn in football. It’s competition — either MLS or Ligue 1 or Europa or Champions League — it’s always a competition where you need to win. It’s football, 11 against 11,” Garde said. “I try to do my best within my players, and I’m sure we will have better results one day, of course.”
BRAD FRIEDEL, REVOLUTION: The former U.S. national team goalkeeper was hired as coach of the New England Revolution in November, replacing Heaps.
Friedel made 82 appearances for the United States over 13 years and was on the national team’s roster for three World Cups, starting for the American team that advanced to the quarterfinals in 2002.
His club career was highlighted by 17 Premier League seasons, including stints with the Blackburn, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Tottenham. Friedel most recently served as head coach of the U.S. under-19 national team and was a Fox analyst.
The Revolution lost its opener 2-1 to the Philadelphia Union.
“You take everything that he says and try to improve your game that way. He did it for so long at such a high level that it is very valuable especially for me as a goalkeeper, who is looking to break into the scene,” New England goalkeeper Matt Turner said afterward.
ANTHONY HUDSON, COLORADO RAPIDS: Hudson was hired by the Rapids in late November after three seasons coaching New Zealand’s national team.
A Seattle native, Hudson was 9-11-7 as the national team coach. He also led New Zealand to an appearance in the Confederations Cup last summer, becoming the youngest coach to lead a team in the tournament.
Colorado finished 9-19-6 last season, second-to-last in the Western Conference. The Rapids parted ways with Mastroeni in August and assistant Steve Cooke served as interim coach.
Hudson makes his MLS coaching debut with the Rapids on Saturday against the Revolution.
GIOVANNI SAVARESE, PORTLAND TIMBERS: Savarese replaces Porter, who posted a 68-50-52 record and won the MLS Cup championship in 2015. The Timbers finished atop the Western Conference last season.
Savarese, a former forward from Venezuela, comes to the Timbers from the New York Cosmos of the second-tier North American Soccer League, where he had been coach since 2012. He led the Cosmos to three Soccer Bowl championships in five seasons.
“With Gio it was — I hate to use the proverbial cliche, ‘check the boxes’ — but the off-the-field, on-the-field philosophy, the way he thinks about the game, it was pretty seamless,” team owner Merritt Paulson said about Saverese’s fit in Portland.
Savarese’s debut as head coach was spoiled by the Galaxy, which downed the Timbers 2-1 in Los Angeles last weekend.
MIKAEL STAHRE, SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES: Stahre was hired in late November to replace Kinnear, who was fired in June. Chris Leitch, the team’s technical director, served as interim coach.
Stahre, who is from Stockholm, coached for 11 years in Europe, most recently as head coach for a season with Hacken in Sweden’s top division, where he posted a 14-6-10 record.
Stahre won his opener 3-2 over Minnesota United, surviving a scare after Loons forward Kevin Molino scored twice in the final 10 minutes.
“I enjoyed every second,” Stahre said of his debut. “Maybe not the last 10 minutes, but it was a good atmosphere for sure.”