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MIKE WOITALLA... A Perfect Candidate
October 27th, 2000 12AM

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Dallas has sacked David Dir and Tampa Bay has bid adieu to Tim Hankinson. And itÆs likely that two or three other teams would part with their coach were they confident of finding suitable replacements.

So how do the bosses figure out what type of man can successfully lead an MLS team?

They may look at the five-year history of MLS coaches to see whoÆs panned out and who hasnÆt.

Playing experience? Eddie Firmani (Italy), Frank Stapleton (Ireland) and Walter Zenga (Italy) had illustrious international careers but failed miserably on MLS sidelines. On the other hand, Bob Bradley, who in three years has an MLS Cup and two Open Cups to his name, played no pro ball at all.

IÆve seen that Octavio Zambrano, who boasts the best MLS regular-season winning percentage, strikes the ball well, but in one season of Major Indoor Soccer League play, he managed one goal.

Obviously, the greatest coach in the leagueÆs short history was Bruce Arena, who reached the final three years straight before taking the U.S. helm.

Arena, who played keeper in the old ASL and has one U.S. cap, had zero international coaching experience but owned five NCAA titles. So winning college coaches are an option. (Sigi Schmid ù three titles with UCLA ù is doing all right.)

For sure, foreign coaches ù and I mean men imported specifically to coach in MLS ù are out. Even those who were World Cup heroes sank in MLS.

Carlos Alberto Parreira, who won with Brazil in 1994, went 13-19 with the MetroStars, and Bora Milutinovic, who coached in four World Cups, remains dead-last in MLS winning percentage.

In fact, this yearÆs success story, Bob Gansler, had a dismal World Cup, in 1990.

A prime candidate can be a so-so player, an NCAA winner and a World Cup failure.

ThatÆs Steve Sampson.



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