MIAMI, Fla. (October 5, 2019) —
The last day of the MLS season is upon us. It’s called “Decision Day.” For most fans of soccer around the world, that means a final chance for some clubs to survive relegation, or for a club to seal the championship. For MLS, which follows the model of North American sports leagues, the final round of the season is a chance for some clubs to secure a place in the postseason tournament, known as MLS Cup.
For this season, MLS made some changes which definitely gives more emphasis to the regular season and rewards teams for better performances. The post season was revised to a single elimination format which involves single games at the home of the higher seed, rather than two legs that flattened the odds. This means teams are vying to finish high enough in the table to secure a very important home matches in MLS Cup.
All games kickoff Sunday, October 6 at 4 p.m. EDT.
What’s at Stake? Here are the main 2019 MLS Decision Day Storylines:
Eastern Conference: Should Teams Watch out for the Revolution?
With the Eastern Conference qualifiers already set in stone, Atlanta versus New England looks to be the most interesting match of Round 34 on this side of the league.
Atlanta can lock up the number 2 seed in the East with a win against New England combined with a Philadelphia loss or draw.
Ironically, despite winning a lot of matches in their three-year history, the Five Stripes still have not won on decision day. In 2017, Atlanta drew 2-2 with Toronto FC at home. The following season, they were crushed 4-1 at BMO Field. On Sunday they’ll face a dangerous New England Revolution side that come into Mercedes-Benz Stadium on a high.
New England has been looking like a time on the rise under Bruce Arena, riding some serious momentum. New England clinched the seventh and final playoff spot in the east with a 2-0 win over top-seed New York City FC, a team that recently defeated Atlanta United 4-1 in the Bronx.
Toronto FC currently sit sixth in the table, just one point behind the Red Bulls from New Jersey.
Atlanta United has not done well versus the Reds, while the team from New Jersey has won in Atlanta before. It’s reason enough for Atlanta to want to avoid playing either of these sides right away in the first round of the playoffs.
New England comes into Atlanta with nothing to lose. They are in the playoffs, something that looked impossible until Arena took the helm. The pressure sits squarely on Atlanta United. This is Arena’s first visit to Atlanta with the Revolution. The way he sets up New England today could tell us how he may approach a potential playoff rematch. Expect New England to stay compact and look for the counterattack. Columbus Crew used this trategy in Atlanta on September 14th and came away with a win. Frank de Boer’s team failed to find the necessary attacking solutions, and were subsequently punished in transition. How will De Boer adjust? It should be a study in tactics.
Western Conference: Can Los Angeles Football Club Finish With The Most Points In History?
LAFC has been the dominant team this season, with only a couple of blips on the radar. They will likely use the final game of the season to remain focused. As the top seed, after this game they will have a first-round bye that will give them two-and-a-half weeks’ rest. With a win, LAFC have a chance to finish with the most points in a single season. Will they do it?
Can Colorado actually sneak in to the playoffs?
The Rapids had been building up momentum for months. After starting the season 0-9-2, they rallied under interim coach Conor Casey toward something resembling respectability. Robin Fraser took over as the Colorado Rapid’s head coach in late August, with his only previous managerial gig having been with Club Deportivo Chivas USA.
“By the end of the first session, I thought that not only were they a good team, that they have a really good spirit, and a lot of belief in themselves,” Fraser said. “That’s when I felt like this could be a really fun project.”
Now, on the last round of the season the Rapids have a chance, though admittedly a slim one, of making the playoffs. Can they do it? To reiterate, despite having started the season winless through 11 games the Rapids are still alive heading into the final round.
If Colorado upsets LAFC — the best team in the league, already owning the Supporters’ Shield and with the top playoff seed already clinched — and Dallas loses to Kansas City and San Jose loses to Portland, the Rapids are in. Even if the ‘Quakes draw with the Timbers, Colorado can still qualify through tiebreakers if they win by two goals or more. This ‘perfect storm’ isn’t exactly likely. LAFC is the top team, Dallas is at home, and Kansas City is playing only for pride. But wouldn’t it be a great story of overcoming odds?
Colorado has been scoring goals. Kei Kamara and Diego Rubio are both in the double digits (13 and 11, respectively), while Andre Shinyashiki and Jonathan Lewis have come on stronger. Fraser wants to inject a possession style of play but joining so far into the season has made that difficult. Yet he’s optîistic.
“I really admire the character of the team. They care about each other, and I think you see that in how they play, adds Fraser.”
No matter what happens on Sunday, that’s something to build on and carry over. And if they can get into the playoffs they will definitely be a team to watch.
Which club, the Portland Timbers or San Jose Earthquakes, will stumble into the playoffs?
Their game at Providence Park in Portland is the only semi-do-or-die matchup on the schedule in Round 34. Despite going a combined 1-7-3 in September, at least one of them will drag themselves into the playoffs on Sunday afternoon. Portland has played its last three games to a draw. Portland can lose this game and still get into the postseason torunament if Dallas also loses. The Earthquakes, who need a win, won the first meeting between the teams, 3-0.
There is a sense that both teams might be approaching unhappy endings.
This could very well be Diego Valeri’s last game as a Timber. Negotiations over a new contract have not gone well, and the two sides have different demands. Valeri has been the face of the Timbers since his arrival in 2013. He’s gone above and beyond — not just on the pitch, but as an ambassador in the community as well. Yet neither side looks likely to budge at the moment. This might be it.
Moving past Valeri’s situation, the Timbers have had a strange and trying year, summed up by Brian Fernandez’s goal drought and red card that has him suspended for this all-important finale.
San Jose sits just below the playoff line on 44 points. But if you had offered them this position at the beginning of the season — win one, final game and you’re in — surely they would have taken it. The club has done much better under head coach Matías Almeyda in his first year with the team, who has imparted an exciting style of play.
San Jose has slumped late, however. They have lost eight out of 10 since early August. Either opponents have figured them out or Almeyda’s physically demanding high press has ground them down. There are also rumours out of Mexico that Club de Fútbol Monterey are looking for a new manager, and, you guessed it, his name is Matías Almeyda.
Almeyda is a bigger name that most people realise, having been successful in his native Argentina and leading Chivas Guadalajara to the CONCACAF Champions League title just last year Earlier this week, he admitted that links with Monterrey and a return to Liga MX made him “happy.” How quickly the sand can shift in the world of soccer.
Is Seattle or Minnesota a real contender?
The victor of the Sounders-Loons game at CenturyLink Field in Seattle will lock up the No. 2 seed in the west, and home-field advantage all the way to the conference final. However, If Real Salt Lake wins in Vancouver and the LA Galaxy win in Houston, whichever side loses the match at CenturyLink Field would drop to fifth.
Seattle seems to feel rightly disappointed by this year’s performance: “I think anytime we don’t compete for the Supporters’ Shield, with the talent that we have, is a fail,” midfielder Cristian Roldan said this week.
“Maybe it’s more of a redemption-type game for us,” goalkeeper Stefan Frei said. “We’ve had so many opportunities to make a statement game, and we’ve squandered quite a few of them. … We’ve been very, very fortunate. Let’s be honest. I think our season has been not the best. It was nice to finally start on top, but the remainder of the year has been a struggle. At some point, we have to make that statement.”
Minnesota has qualified for the playoffs for the first time. Their highlight moment of the season was a 2-0 away win at LAFC, which is also LAFC’s only loss since El Tráfico on July 19th. Carlos Vela was absent that match. But with the MVP favourite reinstated last weekend at Allianz Field, Minnesota still ground out a 1-1 draw. The Loons formula against Los Angeles was to stay compact, give LAFC possession in less dangerous areas, and have a ruthless mentality on the counter.
The Loons are playing with confidence, no matter the opponent.
Who Will Win The Golden Boot?
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is second in the goal-scoring race with 29 goals. In fron is Carlos Vela of LAFC, who has 31 goals, a mark which places him in a tie with Atlanta United Josef Martínez for the most goals in a single MLS season. Zlatan had this to say:
“I am trying to score goals every game, that is part of my responsibility, part of what I have to do to help my teammates,” I have 29 goals in 28 games. If I would have the same amount [of] games like the other ones, it would be different. But now I’m chasing someone that has more games than me. If we score we score, we’ll have to see what the end number will be. If there still is a possibility, we’ll try.”
Still, the LA Galaxy star insists the ultimate aim is to achieve team glory.
“I prefer the collective win, when we win that game, that is more important,” he said. “With the collective success the individual success comes with it. If I can do good for my team, with my team, I know I’m doing good. I’m not focusing on the individual bonuses, I always say it’s like a bonus. Without my teammates those things would not be possible. If I win, it’s my team that wins. Whoever wins the Golden Boot has to think it’s not because of him, it’s because of his teammates.”
Credit to The Athletic for providing inspiration and perspective.
Inter Miami CF and Nashville Soccer Club are the two teams beginning play in 2020.
MIAMI, Fla. (September 19, 2019; updated October 4, 2019) –
The two newcomers to Major League Soccer, Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC, will face each other on Sunday, October 6. Except that it won’t be on the pitch.
Major League Soccer announced back on September 19th that the 2019 MLS Expansion Draft* will occur on November 19, 2019. It will be the thirteenth expansion draft in league history.
Decision Day Coin Toss
In order to decide which club will select first in that expansion draft, as well as the order for the various other means of acquiring players for their respective rosters, MLS has created an event called the “2019 MLS Expansion Priority Draft.” This will take place on October 6, prior to kick off of an intense final day of the regular season during MLSsoccer.com’s “Matchday Central: Decision Day presented by AT&T Pregame Show.”
You can watch live this Sunday, October 6, 2019 at 3:00 p.m. EDT from AT&T MLS Studios in New York City as part of the MLS Decision Day Pregame Show presented by AT&T. (MLSsoccer.com, the MLSapp, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube).
At that time, Inter Miami CF Managing Owner & CEO Jorge Mas along with Sporting Director Paul McDonough, as well as Nashville SC CEO Ian Ayre and General Manager Mike Jacobs, will flip a coin to determine which club receives the first pick in the five available player-acquisition methods. For example, the winner of the coin toss can elect which of the five player acquisition methods they want for their team, followed by the loser of the coin toss making an election. This process continues until all of the methods have been chosen.
Here’s what the two team’s executives have to choose from:
What it boils down to is that the winner of the coin toss will receive two of the top three mechanisms. Having the first pick in the expansion draft is likely to be the most desired, although having the top choice in the allocation ranking order can also be a good way to acquire an experienced player. For example, it was used by Atlanta to acquire goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
It’s a complicated process to build a roster from scratch. “You’re trying to look at all the different mechanisms, your international spots, your roster positions, your money, your free agents, your expansion draft picks and you’re trying to see best how to build the deepest squad you can,” Sporting Director Paul McDonough said. “We’ve been preparing. Thinking on who could be available and how they would fit into our team. What would be a win for us is that we come out with a mix of players and assets that can help us continue to build the squad.”
“We know we need MLS experience to be successful,” said McDonough. “It’s important for us to find those guys who can fill certain needs within the starting eleven or immediate depth of the squad as we look to build a competitive roster.”
How Many Players Can Be Selected?
The Expansion Draft provides an opportunity for Miami and Nashville to strengthen their MLS rosters by selecting up to five (5) current players from other MLS teams.
How Many Players Can Each Club Protect?
Each current MLS team may protect up to twelve (12) rostered players (previously 11 in years past) from inclusion on the eligible players list.
When will the list of unprotected players (eligible players) Be Released?
The complete list of players eligible for selection in the 2019 MLS Expansion Draft will be released on Saturday, November 16.
Are Any Teams Exempt From The Expansion Draft?
Yes, as reported earlier on Russo Soccer, certain clubs are exempt. Exempt clubs with players selected by FC Cincinnati in the 2018 Expansion Draft are D.C. United, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, FC Dallas, the Houston Dynamo, and the New York Red Bulls.
Have Any Notable Players Been Acquired Via The Expansion Draft?
Yes, notable former Expansion Draft picks include two players chosen by Los Angeles Football Club in 2017: Latif Blessing and Tyler Miller. Blessing has six goals and five assists this season, alongside Miller’s nine clean sheets (shutouts) for the top-ranked club in the league standings. FC Cincinnati selected Darren Mattocks and Roland Lamah in 2018, and both became regular contributors for the club this season.
This is the first time since 2016 that two teams have had to flip a coin to determine the order of selection. The last time was in 2016, when Atlanta United and Minnesota United were entering the league.
Here is how that draft went. Atlanta won the coin toss, and the mechanisms were then split as seen below. After the type of selection, you can see what player was acquired and how.
The first three mechanisms are clearly more important than the others. But what is important to a team depends on how it plans to build its roster, i.e. is the plan to focus on established talent or unproven potential.
More Information on the expansion draft history and the rules is available on the MLs website:
* An expansion draft is a common practice in North American professional sports as a method to begin to stock the roster of a new franchise.
Miami, Fla. (September 23, 2019) —
Granada had only beaten Barcelona once in their last twenty meetings. Then came Saturday night, a pleasant, warm, dry evening in southern Andalusia.
By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard the final score. The shocking result over the weekend condemned Barcelona to its worst league start in 25 years and leaves the club in eighth place in the table, three points behind Granada. The previous worst start was in 1994-1995 under manager Johan Cruyff. It is also the first time since that season that Barcelona have failed to win any of its first three away games. The Blaugrana have been winless on the road stretching back to April (last season.)
Manager Ernesto Valverde made four changes to the side that unconvincingly drew 0-0 with Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League last Tuesday, as a returning Messi started on the bench once more. Summer signing Junior Firpo was handed his first start of the season after Jordi Alba had picked up an injury in midweek, but it was his defensive slip that directly led to Granada taking the lead after just one minute and five seconds.
Ramon Azeez headed in at the back post, to the delight of the over 18,000 spectators at the Nuevo Los Cármenes, who would not have dared to dream of being a goal up after less than two minutes having been played. The early advantage proved no fluke either, as the hosts pressed on and could have added to their advantage before the interval – Manchester City loanee Yangel Herrera shooting narrowly over from outside the box.
Barcelona’s best opportunity fell to Luis Suarez in first-half stoppage time, but the Uruguay forward’s goal-bound attempt was – typically of the hosts’ defensive performance – blocked on the line.
Something had to be done, and Valverde introduced Lionel Messi (replacing Carles Perez) and 16-year old superstar Ansu Fati at half-time. The pair saw plenty of the ball in the second half, but despite their best efforts, neither could achieve a breakthrough. In fact, it was a Granada substitute, Álvaro Vadillo, who had a bigger impact on the game, adding the hosts’ second from the penalty spot after Arturo Vidal’s costly hand ball in the area, which was confirmed beyond any doubt by VAR. Vadillo swept the ball to his left from the penalty spot, away from a diving Marc Andre ter Steigen.
Such was the strength of Granada’s play that the visitors, despite having 73 % of the possession and out passing Granada by a wide margin, failed to register a shot on target in the first half and landed just one of their eight shots – from Messi in 82nd minute – on target in the entire game.
Barcelona never looked like getting back into the contest after that, as a resilient, dogged Granada recorded a famous victory.
Barcelona have now failed to score in six of their last seven La Liga away matches, while €120 million summer signing Antoine Griezmann is yet to have a shot on target after four away matches for Barcelona.
The recent form of the Culés has Luis Suarez worried:
“This defeat hurts us and makes us very worried and we need to really take hard look at ourselves if we are to improve. We didn’t manage to dominate the game in any way. We need to analyse what has gone wrong in these a way games; we are obviously concerned about the lack of chances we are creating.”
When asked where the blame lied for the loss at Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes, Valverde was clear in his answer.
“We’re missing precision in the final third, they tried to press us, we came out well from the pressure and then it was a matter of adding the finishing touch, that’s where we went wrong,” he explained.
“We will try to improve.” He also took responsibility for the defeat, adding, “You always blame yourself for what happens, the actors are the players but in the end, the coach is responsible,” he said.
Barcelona are also leaking goals as well, having conceded nine goals in five matches, tied for the worst defensive record in La Liga along with Real Betis.
“It’s clearly not a very good statistic for us and not in line with what we have been doing in the last few years,” said Ernesto Valverde.
Adding to the pressure the Catalan press has been unsympathetic to the Blaugrana, as this cover of yesterday’s Diario Sport clearly shows:
The first American signed by Inter Miami CF, he has played on the United States Men’s National Teams at the Youth Level and has played in the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Miami, Fla. (Friday, September 20, 2019) —
Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami announced today the signing of their fifth player, George Acosta, a Miami native.
Acosta, a 19-year-old offensive midfielder, played on the U-14 and U-16 teams at Weston FC (Fla.) Academy and was well known to the Inter Miami Academy coaching staff. His still young playing career has an international flavour: In 2014, he moved from South Florida to Argentine club Estudiantes de La Plata. After Argentina, Acosta moved back to the United States to play and study at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL. From there, he joined the U-23 team of North Carolina FC.
On July 1, 2018, he joined Club Atlético Boca Juniors’ U-20 team, an achievement that is very rare for a foreign player. He spent the 2018-2019 season on the U-20 and later the Second Team of Boca Juniors. Recently, in August, Acosta was transferred to Austin Bold of the USL Championship, where he has played two games. He will remain with Austin until January when he will join his Internacional teammates for preseason training.
The rising star also has experience as a member of several United States Youth National Teams. Acosta participated in the Montaigu Tournament in France with the US U-16 National Team. His six goals (most of the tournament) helped the United States win the tournament for the first time since 1992. He has played 12 matches on the United States U-17 team, and featured for the Stars and Stripes in the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup in India, scoring a goal against Colombia and making an assist versus India. (The US reached the quarterfinals of that tournament before bowing out to Brazil 4-1). This year, he was called up to the US U-23 team (currently coached by Inter Miami’s Jason Kreis) for a training camp in June. He also played on the US U-15 and U-19 sides.
“He’s someone that we know will play in the highest levels of soccer in the coming years. He has the opportunity of being one of the USMNT top stars in the near future,” said Austin Bold F.C. General Manager Roberto Silva at the time Acosta was signed.
“We are excited to sign a player of George’s potential and look forward to integrating him into our inaugural roster,” said Inter Miami CF Sporting Director Paul McDonough. Managing Owner Jorge Mas sent out this message this morning via Twitter:
Acosta has dual citizenship with the USA and Colombia (his father is Colombian), so he will not count towards Inter Miami’s current limit of eight (8) international players. The Rosanegro currently have three international players (Carranza, Pellegrini and Makoun) on the roster. Canadian David Norman, Jr. does not count against that limit per MLS rules.
Nerja, Málaga, España (lunes 19 de agosto de 2019) – Kenneth Russo
Granada Club de Fútbol is back in La Liga Santander, and the primary mission this season will be to survive in the top flight of Spanish football. The beginning of a new season is always filled with anticipation, and the battle for la permanencia began with a goleado, a wild encounter Saturday night at the Estadio de la Cerámica in Villarreal, where the rojiblancos produced a 4-4 draw with Villarreal.
Antonio Puertas scored the goal that earned the away point. Manager Diego Martínez, who is the youngest head coach in La Liga, said, “We are a team that believes.” That belief will receive a second test at home this Friday as Sevilla FC come to Granada.
El Granada Club de Fútbol está de vuelta en La Liga Santander, y la misión principal de esta temporada será sobrevivir en la máxima categoría del fútbol español. El comienzo de una nueva temporada siempre está lleno de anticipación, y la batalla por la permanencia comenzó con un goleado, un encuentro salvaje el sábado por la noche en el Estadio de la Cerámica en Villarreal, donde los rojiblancos produjeron un empate 4-4 con Villarreal.
Antonio Puertas marcó el gol que le valió el punto como visitante. El gerente Diego Martínez, quien es el entrenador más joven en La Liga, dijo: “Somos un equipo que cree”. Esa creencia recibirá una segunda prueba en casa este viernes cuando el Sevilla FC visita al Granada.
Several Names Meet The Criteria
Miami, Fla. (Saturday, August 3, 2019) – Kenneth Russo
Inter Miami begins its first season in Major League Soccer next March, and team officials were present at last Wednesday’s MLS All-Star Game in Orlando. Managing Owner Jorge Mas spoke with BBC Sports and other reporters, telling them that the team is “very close” to hiring a manager, and further that it is “someone you’re going to know who has coached before at the highest level and who has played at the highest level.” He said they are looking for a long-term coach.
“We are trying to get someone who can also commit here for a period of time and leave his fingerprints on our team,” Mas said.
Jorge has previously mentioned the fact that the team had been to Europe to talk to candidates. With the above criteria and taking into account managers who are available, a shortlist of candidates would include:
The 42-year-old Argentine played at River Plate, Atlético Madrid, and Inter Milan, and has coached the Argentine national team, Real Madrid youth and briefly Real Madrid CF.
Solari took over the reigns at Real Madrid after Julien Lotepegui was dismissed following a 5-1 thrashing to Barcelona in El Clásico at the Camp Nou last October. He was the victim of two fatal weeks, in which Real said adíos to having a chance to win any of the three competitions in play (Copa del Rey, Champions League and La Liga). His time in charge ended on March 11, 2019 with the arrival of Zizou.
Solari retreated after his dismissal to his house in Ibiza to relax and destress. He still is being paid his salary by Real Madrid as his contract with the Merengues runs until 2021. He reportedly also received an offer to work at the club as a coach at their academy (“fútbol base de Valdebebas”) in April 2019 but wanted more time to respond, and ultimately did not take that job.
Both Solari and Julien Lotepegui want to continue to manage at the senior level. In the case of Lotepegui, he has received offers in the past from clubs in the Premier League, and it is thought that his preferred coaching style would be well suited to that competition. Solari was reportedly considered by Real Betis as a replacement for Quique Setién, who managed Betis for the past two seasons.
Massimiliano “Max” Allegri
Allegri, 51, Italian, is a former midfielder who played in the Serie A and most recently led Juventus to five consecutive Scudettos (Serie A league titles, four Coppa Italia titles) and two Champions League finals from 2014-19. His five straight Scudetti is a first for a Serie A manager. Since his first appointment at Aglianese in Italy’s Serie C2 in 2004, Allegri has been on an increasing upwards trajectory which has now placed him as one of Europe’s top coaches. He won the Serie A title in his first year coaching AC Milan in 2010-11 season.
Allegri is ranked number four in the ESPN ranking of the world’s top 100 Coaches. Apart from his very obvious leadership qualities, Allegri’s success is also due to his tactical flexi bility, which makes him probably the most complete coach in the world. Allegri has also proven he can handle big personalities and players, with names likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Gennaro Gattuso, Alessandro Nesta, Clarence Seedorf, Alexandre Pato, Robinho, Antonio Cassano and more recently Cristiano Ronaldo shining under his leadership.
“Playing well is one thing, winning is another.”Max Allegri
The 56-year-old Scot played at Celtic, then coached at Preston North End, Everton Manchester United, Real Sociedad, Sunderland and West Ham United).
Moyes recently spoke openly about his experience when first beginning at Everton:
He also recently had this to say about Manchester United, where he was hired in 2013 to replace the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson, and later sacked after just 10 months at Old Trafford. He admits he will always be disappointed that he failed to carry on Fergie’s run of success.
Klinsmann, 55, is a former German international and US Men’s National Team coach who resides in Southern California. He too fits the description. He played for VfB Stuttgart, Inter Milan, AS Monaco, Tottenham Hotspur and Bayern Munich, and played on the 1990 World Cup Champion team for Germany. In addition to the United States, Klinsmann has coached Germany, guiding Der Mannschaft to a third-place finish at the 2006 World Cup. No matter where he has managed, he has left behind a slew of supporters and detractors. As a club manager with Bayern Munich, Klinsmann lasted less than a full season, being fired in April 2009. He was credited with bringing new philosophies and even new-age training ideas to a club steeped in tradition.
Klinsmann seems like an unlikely candidate for the Inter Miami job. He has indicated a willingness to get back into coaching, but only if the right opportunity were to arise. It also appears his interests lie in coaching a national team rather than a club.
“Ahead of the World Cup in Russia, I had four or five inquiries from teams playing there,” Klinsmann told Sport Bild. “But I turned them down because their goal was to survive the group stages.”
“I had this goal with the U.S. (at the 2014 World Cup). It’s not enough for me now. If (I return), I want to lead an association of a certain calibre and with the goal to reach the semifinals at the World Cup. But if such a situation does not come to pass in the foreseeable future, I wouldn’t mind it for family reasons. My daughter Laila still attends school. And when she attends university next year, the situation changes.”
The current manager of the Belgium national team, Roberto Martínez, 46, was linked as a potential successor to Ernesto Valverde at FC Barcelona. The Spanish national is originally from Catalunya. He is under contract with the Belgian federation until June 30, 2020, as is Valverde at Barcelona.
According to a local Barcelona media report, the Blaugrana would prefer a coach who is ‘tougher’ in training, more ‘daring’ with his tactics and substitutions, and plays a more ‘attacking’ style of football. That local media outlet settles on Martinez as an individual who ticks those boxes.
Martínez began his playing career at Balaguer (his hometown in Spain), then played in England and Scotland (Wigan 1995-2001, Motherwell 2001-2002, Walsall 2002-2003, Swansea 2003-2006 et Chester 2006-2007). As a coach he has been in charge of Swansea from 2007-2009, Wigan 2009-2013 and Everton 2013-2016 prior to accepting the position with the Belgian Federation in 2016.
Martinez signed a contract to become the manager of Wigan Athletic in June 2009. Upon his arrival at the Barclays Premier League team, Martinez quickly established himself as one of the best young minds in the ranks of European football managers. He spent four Premier League seasons at Wigan.
Martinez was named the manager at Everton FC in June 2013, taking over the team from David Moyes who replaced legendary Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.
His most notable distinction to-date is leading Les Diables Rouges to a third-place finish at the 2018 World Cup. He also guided Wigan to the FA Cup title in 2012-13.
Henry, the 41-year-old former French international, won a World Cup with Les Bleues and is one of the best strikers of all-time, and has played and coached at the top level. Henry played for Monaco, Juventus, Arsenal (leading scorer in club history with 174 goals), Barcelona, and the New York Red Bulls, which gives him MLS experience. He was an assistant coach for Belgium’s World Cup team in 2018 and coached in his first assignment as a manager at Monaco last season, but was let go.
Italian sports daily publication La Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting that former Italian international midfielder Gennaro Gattuso is one of the leading candidates to become the first manager of Inter Miami CF and has been in serious talks with the club. Gattuso was one of the key players on some great AC Milan squads during the early 2000s, playing alongside such stars as Defenders Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Nesta, midfielder Andrea Pirlo and under the direction of manager Carlo Ancelotti. He was also a teammate of David Beckham in 2009-10.
Gattuso, 41, resigned as coach of AC Milan in late-May after the team finished in fifth place in Serie A, one spot short of qualification for the UEFA Champions League. Talking about his emotional departure from the Rossoneri he told La Repubblica:
“Deciding to leave Milan’s bench is not easy. But it’s a decision I had to make. There was not a precise moment in which I made it, it was the sum of these 18 months as coach of a team that for me will never be like the others. Months that I lived with great passion, unforgettable months. Mine is a painful but thoughtful choice.
“Am I giving up a two-year contract? Yes, because my story with Milan can never be a question of money.”
He went to say that the stress had gotten the best of him. “I’ve barely slept in the past 18 months, mentally I’m in pieces.” He had two years left on his contract at the time of his resignation; he asked that his remaining salary be divided among his assistant coaches.
Gattuso played 468 matches for Milan from 1999-2012 and wore the captain’s armband after Paolo Maldini retired. During his career, he won Champions League titles, Serie A championships, and played in three World Cups with the Italian national team, including as a member of the World Cup Champion side in 2006.
Gattuso was known for his fierce play. He left everything on the field every match, becoming famous for his fighting spirit, heart and determination. There is no doubt that he has first-hand knowledge about what it is like to play for a championship side.
Gattuso previously coached AC Milan’s U19 team, assuming the managerial post for the first team midway through the 2017-18 campaign following a tough start to the season for the Rossoneri. Pundits immediately questioned the decision due to his lack of experience. Gennaro tackled the question at his initial press conference: “It’s ridiculous to me that all we ever talk about is my grit,” he said. “They didn’t just give me my licence, I studied to get it.” Gattuso lit a fire under the Milan players, and whatever he may have lacked in managerial experience, he was able to get more from the players than predecessor Vincenzo Montella and steered Milan to sixth spot, as well as the Coppa Italia final.
As a result of his fine work, the Italian was handed the job permanently at Milan and signed a contract until 2021. Overall with AC Milan, he won 40 games, lost 20 and drew 22. Milan’s fifth-place finish in Serie A last season was its best since 2012-13, but he opted to leave.
According to La Gazzetta, he recently turned down the coaching job at French club Nantes. He was also linked with the Newcastle job in England, but they hired Sheffield Wednesday coach Steve Bruce.
What could we expect from the man nicknamed “il ringhio” (the Italian word for growl) in Miami at the helm of the Rosinegro? At his very first press conference with AC Milan, Gattuso confirmed that he would deploy a back three, four in midfield and some variation of three forwards, a 3-4-1-2 looking likely. He also has deployed on many occasions at Milan a 4-3-3, with an emphasis on possession and a patient build up in the attack. He makes full use of the full backs get high and wide to take the place of the wingers should they go looking for the ball deep or infield, which they often do.
Paul McDonough, Miami’s Sporting Director, said last week that they had serious conversations with two coach candidates and that they won’t hire someone unless it is the perfect fit. He said MLS experience was not mandatory.
“MLS experience is not a hard-fast requirement; but if we brought a coach in who did not have MLS experience, then we’d certainly understand there’s a void there and add MLS experience to his immediate support staff,” McDonough said.