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Major League Soccer


December 3, 2016
Buying local

By Brian Trusdell
Soccer News Net Contributor

Something to be said for 21 years of experience

While expansion club Atlanta felt it needed to go all the way to Argentina for its coach, the MLS original LA Galaxy seems to think staying closer to home is a better bet.

After announcing former midfielder Pete Vagenas as the club’s general manager on Monday, Galaxy President Chris Klein told reporters later on a conference call that his club – unlike some others – are focusing on this side of the Atlantic (and Gulf of Mexico) for a replacement for Bruce Arena.

“Domestic coaches certainly have had more success in our league than those from without,” Klein said.

Maybe Klein has at least glanced at the league’s Fact and Record Book (known in the trade as the FARB). Or maybe he’s been around the game since he was a kid and in MLS since 1998 and noticed a few things.

Of the top 30 coaches in MLS victories, only Hans Backe – at No. 30 – had no playing or coaching experience in the United States before taking an MLS job.

This contrasts with some of MLS’ high-profile foreign coaching busts like Brazilian World Cup winner Carlos Alberto Parreira (13-19-0), Ruud Gullit (6-8-5) and Aron Winter (7-22-15).

With Kansas City re-signing Peter Vermes and Timbers owner Merritt Paulson saying Caleb Porter “isn’t going anywhere”, Klein noted his club is speaking to Galaxy II coach Curt Onalfo, not talking to recently departed assistant coach and Arena shadow Dave Sarachan and not commenting on former Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid.

The Galaxy “likely” will interview, Klein said, at least one of the many people from around the world who have contacted the club, but is not going with a strictly buy non-American policy.
Paid a lot dues

Ian Russell played 10 years in MLS and spent the last nine as an assistant coach at San Jose (where he played most of his career and had a two-game stint as head coach in 2014). Now he’ll be getting his chance as head coach – in the USL.

The 41-year-old former defender, who played 134 games in MLS, has been put in charge of Reno 1868 FC, which has signed an affiliate agreement with the Earthquakes and is scheduled to begin play in the USL next season.

Russell has studied under four different coaches as a professional player and two more as an assistant coach. Two of those are among the four most successful managers in MLS histor: Frank Yallop and Dominic Kinnear.

Roster reshuffles

Cristian Maidana scored as many goals with Houston in one year than he did with Philadelphia in two, but he’s currently on the outside looking in. The Dynamo declined to exercise its option on the 29-year-old Argentine midfielder’s contract along with four others (defenders Sebastien Ibeagha and Raul Rodriguez and midfielders Rob Lovejoy and Zach Steinberger).

This is in addition to defenders DaMarcus Beasley, David Horst and Abdoulie Mansally and midfielder Collen Warner, whose contracts have expired. Maidana made $237,600 this past season and Rodriguez, 29, even more at $379,333, according to MLS Players’ Union figures. That’s considerably higher than the less than $80,000 each for Ibeagha, Lovejoy and Steinberger.

New England also is cutting some ties. It declined the option on its top draft pick, defender Jordan McCrary who didn’t see a second of playing time, and three-year veteran midfielder Steve Neumann, 25, who played in 23 games his first year in 2014 but only four this past season. Both made just above the league minimum at $62,500.

And not waiting for the Rapids to weigh in, Jermaine Jones already has started shopping for a new club, according to comments he made to the Denver Post after Sunday’s playoff-eliminating game.
“People know that I came to this league as a (designated player) and this is where I want to go back to,” he said. “I’m a free agent now. I will sit back and see what comes. I’m not scared to go back to Europe or scared to go to Mexico or somewhere.”

The 35-year-old midfielder who made $650,000 this past season also posted a tweet that ended with
“FREE AGENT BABY” – but has since deleted it.

Promising Seedlings

Andrew Carleton, who was Atlanta United’s fourth player signing, led an impressive MLS contingent in the U.S. U-17’s 7-1 win over Portugal at the Nike International Friendlies in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. Tuesday.

Carleton scored twice and had an assist while Philadelphia Union midfielder Rayshaun McGann and Toronto FC forward Ayo Akinola scored one goal each.

Josh Sargent, who plays for the U.S. Soccer Federation Development Academy Scott Gallagher Missouri (SLSG), accounted for three goals.

Overall, 10 of those selected by coach John Hackworth for the 20-player Nike friendlies roster are listed with MLS clubs. Seven more are with independent USSF Development Academy clubs and three, naturally, play in Europe.

The United States faces Turkey Friday and Brazil Sunday.

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