In the grand tradition of this site, allow me to step over the still cooling ashes of Curt Onalfo’s career to discuss who comes next to manage DC United. Let me introduce this by saying that Kevin Payne has already ruled out hiring Olsen next-season on a non-interim basis. Thus, he’s not on the list. Neither is Richie Williams who Ives seemed to say wants no part of leaving a good situation in NY to mop up this mess.
Let’s start with who is perhaps both the most exciting and most divisive option for United.
Bob Bradley.Good ole’ “cheatin’ Bob” is by far the most talked about candidate for the position. He is more than qualified for the role having succeeding to varying degrees with three different MLS teams. You can argue about how his tenure as US coach ended, but his record (Gold Cup win, win over Spain, Confederations Cup final appearance, topped the hex, and 13-2-3 record during qualifying) stands for itself. Plus, he fits United’s somewhat myopic stance that its coaches come from within the United family. Bradley was an assistant under Bruce Arena back in the “good ole’ days” and thus he qualifies by that standard too. All that said, at this moment, a sizable community of DC fans absolutely hate his guts. One reason is that he was a fairly successful coach of the hated Metros and two is the “Cheating Bob” incident, better explained here (pdf). Many DC fans still haven’t gotten over that moment, which I must admit, seems rather dumb to me. He was playing with the rules he was presented and on that day it just happened to be United who paid for it. It was within the rules and nothing that he somehow has to be forgiven for. As for all the USMNT-lunatics who are going to say that we’re hiring a moron, fine, let them. Hiring Bradley is a door back to some semblance of relevance within the league. DC used to be hated by the rest of the league, now we’re laughed at. Bob would be the first step to fixing that. Also, Bob is the only name out there that I trust has the credibility and the stones to challenge Kasper and Payne when they foist more crap players on to his roster. More than anything else, DC needs a proper leader in front of this team and managing this roster. Bradley is the only guy out there who you can say that of right now.
Moving on to other DC United “family members”:
Dave Sarachan. He’s currently an assistant in LA, and if he’s truly desperate to get back into head coaching, this might a route back for him. The problem is that, like Onalfo, this guy was absolutely hated by his previous set of fans and just drummed out of town in 2007. Honestly, if he’s being paid well, or even just reasonably well, he should stay in LA. Also, from the perspective of a United fan, nothing would go over like a big bowl of “meh” like a Sarachan hiring. He wouldn’t get anyone outside his immediate family excited about anything.
Carlos Llamosa. I think he’s a good guy and a good coach who could be prodded to leave the forever-in-flux Chivas situation, but still is he really a strong enough personality to improve the situation here? I could see him working out elsewhere, but I don’t view him working out here. That said, if he wants to talk about the position, I imagine United would listen.
Marco Etcheverry. He’s coached a bit in Bolivia but I can’t help thinking that this would be a massive step up. If they were to hire him, I’d almost assume this was one last ticket-grubbing pander before the team skips town. Marco’s a legend, but so is Dema Kovalenko and I don’t think folks want him managing either.
Chad Ashton. Like Rasputin, he’s somehow reemerged as an assistant at DC after Onalfo’s firing. He’s utterly hated by most of the fans and was reshuffled out of the assistant role once already. If he’s hired, I suspect many fans would help pack the Mayflower Vans before departing to Baltimore.
Here are the candidates from outside the “United family”:
Caleb Porter. United made a big, big play at the Akron head coach before he humiliated it by rejecting the offer and accepting a five-year extension. I’ve kind of u-turned on Porter. At the time, I thought he was underqualified. But now, I think some fresh approaches might be required here. Plus if, like most college coaches, he views himself God of all that is soccer, he might be willing to fight the front office and force changes/improvement in scouting and player acquisition. That said, he wouldn’t excite the fans too much. Plus, if he thought DC was a bad situation when he declined them in 2009, he should see what the place looks like now.
Colin Clarke. He’s the current PR Islanders head coach – Here is my upset special pick. He’s done great things with very limited resources down in Puerto Rico and had demonstrably more success in the Champions League than anyone else on this list. I think he has clearly earned a second shot at MLS, particularly with a team not owned by the Hunts. But unless he’s being paid in sofrito, why would he (or anyone) leave Puerto Rico for the mess in DC?
Sasho Cirovski. I’d argue he’s even more qualified than Porter but at Maryland he’s built one of college soccer’s few true powerhouses. Would he want to risk his complete job security and sterling reputation by coming to United? Maybe, but I suspect if he wanted to coach in the pros, he’d have done it already.
Denis Hamlett. Like Onalfo, this would be viewed as a retread of a guy who failed in the league already. Plus, his depature from Chicago was very ugly including him getting into locker room fight with Bakary Soumare. That said, he grew up in the area and attended George Mason, so he has some connections here. Speaking of Mason…
Greg Andrulis. Now here is someone who might just take this job. Count me as someone who might support Andrulis being hired here if only for the sheer lunacy that would erupt in DC and the howls of laughter from across the rest of American soccer. Plus, I know for a fact he works cheap and United wouldn’t have to pay for any moving expenses.
Sven Goran Eriksson. I only include him to put any attractive female members of United’s front office staff on notice that he’s unemployed and looking for love… erm, a job.