By Ridge Mahoney
Columbus has apparently taken the early lead as teams in search of coaches jockey for position.
A source connected to the coaching search in Columbus says the Crew has talked to at least five more candidates for the vacancy. Those five join two of the team’s former players, midfielder supreme Guillermo Barros Schelotto and former U.S. national team goalkeeper Brad Friedel, on the list of candidates.
Gregg Berhalter, Jesse Marsch, Tab Ramos, Richie Williams and Frank Yallop have discussed the opening with Crew management and several, perhaps all, have been interviewed, according to the source. The team is believed to be nearly finished with the initial round of interviews and will soon move on to a second phase.
The Crew is also expected to talk with former U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley once his tenure with the Egyptian national team concludes. Interim coach Brian Bliss, who is 4-3-0 since taking over for Robert Warzycha, has expressed his interest in a full-time gig.
Columbus Dispatch last week reported Schelotto had interviewed with Columbus and also representatives of New York City FC, an expansion team approved last May and scheduled to start play in 2015. SI.com reported that Friedel, who played two seasons with the Crew, has interviewed for the job. General manager Mark McCullers has not directly addressed the status of any individual aside from Bliss, who is a “finalist.”
Former U.S. internationalBerhalter finished his playing career with the Galaxy and was dismissed earlier in July as head coach of Swedish club Hammarby. Marsch started his coaching career as a U.S. national team assistant and was head coach of Montreal in its first MLS season last year. He was also a finalist during the search by Chicago that eventually netted Carlos de los Cobos for the 2010 season. Ramos has coached the U.S. under-20 national team the past two years. Williams, the U.S. U-17 national team head coach, worked as assistant coach and interim head coach of the Red Bulls. Yallop parted ways with San Jose last June after coaching the team since its return to MLS prior to the 2008 season.
Two head coaching positions are open and several more could be during the coming offseason. Columbus and FC Dallas are actively seeking a head coach, and Vancouver president Bob Lenarduzzi has been very noncommittal regarding the status of Martin Rennie.
FC Dallas is believed to be preparing a buyout ofOscar Pareja’s remaining year of contract with Colorado and bring him back to the team for which he played eight seasons and was an assistant coach for six more. The odds-on choice to replace Rennie is Yallop, who like Lenarduzzi is a former Canadian international and Vancouver native.
Chivas USA head coach Jose Luis Realdid a creditable job after replacing Jose Luis Sanchez Sola but the team’s situation is so unstable anything could happen. Sounders owner Joe Rothappears to be backing Sigi Schmid despite a recent skid yet an early playoff fizzle might alter the landscape in Seattle. Interim head coach Mark Watson did so well in San Jose (10-5-3 heading into the season finale) that Quakes’ management will probably give him another year and re-evaluate the situation when the team prepares to move into its new stadium for the 2015 season.
Bradley could also be a candidate in Chicago, where there are rumblings of management changes. If those changes occur, current head coach Frank Klopas might return to a management role and hand over the reins to Bradley, who won the 1998 MLS Cup with Chicago in his first season as head coach.