As a person that thinks of Coaching as a skilled profession I have to question the recent trend of hirings in the MLS. Having playing experience at a decent level is important but is it the major magic ingredient to coaching success? Have you ever seen a person who was an expert in a field with zero hours experience? The 10,000 hour rule suggest to become a highly skilled expert you need 10,000 hours of deliberate practice under the guidance of a quality mentor. In the MLS their are plenty of Head Coaches at the highest level mind you with zero or close to zero coaching experience. If they did coach it was with the clubs academy for a year. I remember one current head coach who had mentioned he thought he was prepared because he did tv match analysis for a year. That gave him the skills needed to lead an MLS team. If your wondering the team didn’t do so well. That is one example of numerous Head MLS coaches with little to zero experience. I know of another coach who had the people higher up in the organization dictate who he had to play and how much time! Can you imagine telling Ferguson at United who to play? Better yet would Man United go hire a Head Coach after Ferguson who has zero coaching experience and just played the game? How would the United fans handle that one? They would revolt! But the MLS wants to be taken seriously…. I can’t take them seriously.
I was never a Bob Bradley fan but I have a completely new found respect for him now. He travels to Egypt to coach and now Norway. He is learning and becoming better, putting himself out there in different soccer cultures and developing his craft. That’s one of the first Americans to really do that. The soccer coaching Profession in the MLS is a borderline joke. Want to develop coaches who were former players? Start them in PDL or the USL. The lower divisions of soccer and let them learn the craft. Managing players alone is an art form! I have been coaching for 20 plus years and feel there is so much more to learn. How could a first year coach be the best qualified for a pro team?
On the flip side it is not the coaches fault. If the MLS is going to hire coaches who never coached then that’s he MLS’s fault. Some MLS want a young coach so the club not the coach can control everything. I heard of one new coach not even allowed to select his own starting line up. I wish the MLS would hire more coaches like Caleb Porter of The Portland Timbers and formerly Akron University. Caleb dominated high level college soccer for years working on his craft. He earned his way into the MLS and did very very well in his first season. Caleb himself said there is really very little difference between the way he ran his college team and the way he runs the Portland Timbers. Hirings like Caleb Porter make sense and treat coaching like a real respected profession.
If the MLS is to be respected and make progress, they need to hire Coaches who are proven professionals with experience. The American Soccer good old boys club has controlled the game for to long now. Awarding jobs to their friends or people they can control. Keeping everything in the family. Overseas they call it “jobs for the boys”. Hopefully quality influential people like Tab Ramos, Claudia Reyna and others can change this mentality in the MLS and in US Soccer. I can write forever if I start in on US Soccer so I’ll stop here for now!
Check out my the book “The Method” – The Art of Coaching Soccer and Management