Random Pings...

Just a couple of things on my mind today, so...

U-20's Bounce Back

The USA U20's recovered from dropping their opener in the U-20 World Cup, a 3-0 loss to Germany, by routing Cameroon 4-1. Of course, the final score was terribly flattering to Rongen's kids, as they were under heavy pressure from their opponents for much of the match, but it does mean they control their own destiny for the final group stage match against South Korea. Win, and they advance. Lose, they're out. Draw? Depends on the other result. Rather than a full recap, just a few notes...

* Dilly Duka looks pretty useful and scored an outrageous lob from the flank. I'm sure the inevitable pissers-on-parades will leap on the "but he meant to cross" podium, but to me, he had eyes only for goal, not for a runner in the box. So does MLS HQ slap its collective forehead when he "goes Euro" in the wake of this tourney after they had a chance to get him on the Red Bulls' roster?

* Ike Opara looked strong in central defense. He got called for the PK, but it looked a bit soft to me. Wonder if he bothers to stick around for the draft, and, if so, is he just itching for a chance to work with Piotr Nowak?

* I can see why the Dynamo grabbed Danny Cruz. He's like a mini-Mullan--quick, pesky, gets fouled a lot. Not a terribly technical player, but a good athlete with a big motor.

* Brek Shea still looks ridiculous.

Replacing Tommy

Assuming Soehn gets the boot in the off-season, who would your front runners be to take over the reins? Off the top of my head, I'd point out the usual suspects in and around the league...

Paul Mariner will pretty much be mentioned with every vacant job until he gets one.

John Spencer has had his name floated as well for a couple of vacancies.

Juan Carlos Osorio isn't busy, is he? Good God, I hope not, but our FO does have a penchant for signing South Americans...

Curt Onalfo had a reasonable start to his managerial career before seeing it all come apart this year. And it's not like he's unfamiliar with the organization.

Richie Williams is no stranger to United either, and probably doesn't have enough cachet to swing the Metrobulls job on a full-time basis.

Frank Yallop is yet another with a United history, and while he's not out of a job yet, he might be soon.

Who'd I miss?

Testing Milos

So with Wicks out 4-6 weeks, Milos Kocic now has five games to earn his spot on next year's team. You've got to figure that we're not going to bank our Champions' League future on an 18 year-old, nor will we throw Hamid into the Toluca shooting gallery for fear of scarring him before his professional career is truly launched. That means Kocic has two Champions' League and three regular season games to make his case. Judging by the previous evidence, these next few weeks may be long ones...


  1. I'd add Colin Clarke to the list of coaching candidates. He has worked wonders with Puerto Rico Islanders.

  2. John Harkes is probably interested. Rongen might also want another try. I wouldn't mind seeing if we could get Sasho Cirovski. Then there is also the possibility of moving Jaime or Ben into the coaching ranks a la Preki or Kreiss.

  3. @Eric
    Right you are. I was just looking at the USL playoffs and saw that they're through to the semifinals. Combined with the excellent results they've been getting in the Champions' League over the last two years (with quite a few United rejects, I might add), Clarke is a solid option.

    Harkes...no. Rongen...no. Cirovski? Maybe, though he doesn't have the MLS background, and I wonder if we'd be getting Hyndman, Mark II? Jaime and Ben should be on the bench next year, either as assistants or as player/coaches, but I wouldn't give either the top job just yet.


  4. I'm not sure Cirovski would take it, but Bruce, Bob and Sigi have demonstrated that college coaches can do okay in this league.

    Given that MLS relies heavily on college talent to fill out its rosters, a college coach is not a bad way to go -- particularly one that identify talent and organize it. Would also consider Vidovich at Wake Forest.

  5. College players and professionals are different animals who need different things from a manager. Also, the professional environment is much different from an academic one.

    I'm not saying that gap can't be bridged, but I don't think the exceptions (Arena, et al) prove the rule. For every Sigi, there's a Schellas. Excellent college coaches don't always make good professional managers.

    Note that I'm not saying it's not a route to explore, but I think a college guy faces a much harder transition now than in the early days of MLS.

    As for the identifying college talent angle...identifying roster filler doesn't exactly fall high on my priorities in what to look for in a manager, particularly given that much of the player identification/acquisition will be in front office hands.

    I'm not trying to be a huge ass about this, but I'd prefer to go with somebody used to working within the confines of the league structure and with professional players before I'd dip into the college ranks.

    Just my opinion though, and I'm sure nobody's going to be asking me before they pull the trigger ;-).

  6. I get what you're saying; but I wonder how much of an empirical difference there would be if one lined up former college players versus former players versus former MLS assistants. My hunch is that each category has its share of Schellas'. The one category that is a no go is guys coming in from foreign leagues.

    I also don't think the college ranks just fill out rosters (that was poorly stated on my part). I think they yield some stars and some good role players and given that the under 18 stars are more than likely to flee to Europe these days, these guys are going to be the bread and butter of the league for a while. We tend ot knock the college game too much in this country and yet it is very vibrant and still expanding.

  7. Fair points.

    I think another thing to consider about college players is just how many of them are not only going to be landing on rosters, but are going to be expected to produce given the continued expansion of the league.

    Here's hoping more MLS head coaching gigs leads to a wider pool of experienced coaches to choose from as well.