La Crisi Napolitana

As club struggles on the pitch, the chairman is embroiled in a dispute with players that has drawn the attention of the Italian and International Player Associations.

What is the limit of an owner’s authority over matters relating to players?

NAPOLI (December 10, 2019) —

Last week, Napoli chairman and owner Aurelio De Laurentiis told reporters he would reportedly sell his entire squad if given the chance, a sure sign the club’s civil war rumbles on. The chairman is reportedly considering cutting his losses and letting some of his best players leave in the winter transfer window.

De Laurentiis, 70, a prominent Italian film producer, has resurrected Napoli since buying them in 2004 after they had been declared bankrupt and relegated to Serie C (the Italian third division). The club basically had to start over again from scratch. The Partenopei have finished second in the race for the Scudetto, the Serie A title, three times in the last four seasons and have played entertaining football throughout that time.

However, he also has a tendency for making incendiary declarations, for falling out with his coaches, — for example Ancelotti’s predecessor Maurizio Sarri — and has a reputation for interfering with the coaching staff’s decisions and player selections. In short, a textbook lesson in what not to do when one owns a professional football club.

Aurelio De Laurentiis

Last month, De Laurentiis ordered a seven-day training camp for the players, during which they would not be allowed to go home to their families. Known as a “ritiro,” in Italian, they are used by clubs as a form of punishment for poor performance, and players view them as both demeaning and outdated. The ritiro was organised following Napoli’s defeat to Roma in Serie A on November 2. The players rebelled after the club’s 1-1 draw with Salzburg in the Champions League on the following Tuesday (November 5), going home rather than to the Castel Volturno training facility. De Laurentiis considered it an act of mutiny.

Napoli 1-1 Salzburg | Photo: Marca

This led to a furious stand-off between the playing staff and De Laurentiis. The club responded to the players’ absence from the retreat with a strongly-worded statement about protecting its rights which implied it would fine the players or even take legal action against them. Napoli’s vice-president, who just happens to be the owner’s son, Edo De Laurentiis, also took a swipe at the squad, claiming they lacked ‘balls’, and called for more ‘honour’ to be given to the ‘shirt and the city’. The fans are angry are both sides and protested in front of the Stadio San Paulo. Things are not harmonious in Napoli.

Napoli Vice-President, Edo De Laurentiis

Napoli head coach Carlo Ancelotti came close to being fired by De Laurentiis (see update below). He denied his squad have turned against him after the club’s winless streak extended to eight matches with a 2-1 defeat to Bologna at home last Sunday. “I have an excellent relationship with the squad,” Ancelotti told reporters. “No one has ever failed to respect me. I don’t see any friction between the players and us.” That winless streak now stands at nine as Napoli drew 1-1 over the weekend away at Udine.

Carlo Ancelotti, Manager, Napoli | photo: Goal.com

The pressure continues to mount on Ancelotti as the Partenopei languish seventh in Serie A, 17 points behind leaders Inter and eight adrift of the Champions League places.

“We are all united, we are all suffering in this delicate moment and we all want to resolve these issues together,” Ancelotti said.

Napoli’s results on the pitch reflect the continued internal problems. De Laurentiis went ahead with his threats and imposed fines on the players who refused to report to the training retreat he unilaterally imposed on the players. De Laurentiis fined them up to 50% of their October salaries, with captain Lorenzo Insigne reportedly ordered to pay the most at 350,000 Euros (nearly $400,000), followed by Brazilian defensive midfielder Allan at 150,000 Euros ($165,000). The fines could total 2.5 million Euros ($2.7 million).

The players have also been barred from speaking to the press, with Ancelotti only talking to the media prior to the Champions’ League game against Liverpool because not doing so would have broken UEFA rules. After the earlier Champions League draw with Salzburg, Ancelotti skipped his media duties.

Pressure is mounting on the club externally as well. The Italian Players Association ( l’associazione italiana calciatori, “AIC”) is looking into the situation. Carlo Ancelotti has stated publicly that he was not in agreement with the training camp, and as a result AIC president Damiano Tomassi said “it needs to be understood if and how the request for the training camp was formalized.” Tommasi says “the Napoli situation is a strange one and very unusual.” He added, “We talked about it with the team and put ourselves at the disposal of the Napoli players who will ask for our consultation.”

Napoli’s decision to fine its players for abandoning the in-season training camp ordered by the club owner is also being contested by FIFPro, the Amsterdam-based world players union.

FIFPro released a statement November 30, 2019, outlining its position:

FIFPro said the fines contradicted provisions in Italy’s collective bargaining agreement. “The players of Napoli cannot be subjected to arbitrary decisions of a disenchanted club when the result of a match is unsatisfactory,” FIFPro said.

“Technical matters are not the responsibility of club directors and we support (coach Carlo) Ancelotti and the players of Napoli for their united stand in clearly difficult times,” it said.


The AIC‘s mission is to protect, improve and negotiate the conditions, rights and status of all professional players by collective bargaining agreements. The Accordo Collettivo, or Collective Bargaining Agreement (the “AC”) at issue here is between the FIGC (Federazione Italiana Gioco Calcio, the Lega Nazionale Professionisti Serie A and the AIC.

Clause 10 (Technical Instructions, Obligations and Rules of Behaviour) of the AC appears to place issues such as training within the sporting side of the club. The section states:

10.1. The Player must perform the sporting services within the organisation provided by the Club and in compliance with the technical instructions and other rules laid down for attainment of the competitive objectives.

The above clause, while likely open for interpretation, seems to uphold the argument if FIFPro that training falls under the authority of a club’s technical staff and not ownership or the commercial side of a club. Clause 10 goes on to state:

10.4. The rules pertaining to the Player’s private life are lawful and binding, following acceptance of same by the Player, acceptance which shall not be unreasonably withheld, only where justified by needs of the professional activities to be performed, without prejudice in any event to respect for human dignity.

The AC also has a clause dealing with a player’s contractual rights to a weekly rest day and vacation. (Clause 18). In addition to allowing players four weeks of continuous vacation each year, this section provides:

18.1. The Player is entitled to one rest day every week, normally in the first two days of the week.

At present, it is unclear if the AIC and/or FIFPro will be successful in having the fines overturned and the players paid in accordance with their contracts. Beyond the issue of the authority of a club owner to order the players to a training retreat, it would be hard to argue that such a measure deprived the players of “human dignity.” A request by Russo Soccer for further comment from FIFPro is still pending as of the time of publishing. Further updates on this story will be provided as news becomes available.

EDITOR’S UPDATE: As this article was being finalised, Carlo Anceolotti was fired Tuesday evening, despite Napoli winning their final Champions League group stage match 4-0 over Genk and qualifying for the knockout stage of the competition. He is now a favourite to assume the managerial duties at Everton or Arsenal in the Premier League. Gennaro Gattuso, who was a candidate for the Inter Miami CF manager’s job, will take over at Napoli.


A Football Club Hotel?

Torino, Italia (November 20, 2019) —

A new hotel opened last August and last night had its official opening ceremony. This official ribbon cutting featured special guest Giorgio Chiellini. What makes it unique is that it is the first Italian hotel, and quite possibly the first hotel anywhere to be in collaboration with a football club. Welcome to the J | Hotel.

Juventus has partnered with Lindbergh Hotels, one of the major exponents of Italian tourism, and Juventus. The hotel, which officially opened its doors on August 24, is situated in the heart of the area known as the J | Village, near the Allianz Stadium and J | Medical, and is grounded between the Juventus Training Center and WINS-World International School.

The J | Hotel is unique because an entire wing is dedicated to rooms reserved for the First Team players while also offering services to the public. The rest of the guest room come in a variety of categories. There are also meeting and business spaces on-site.

Guests are guaranteed a “champion’s rest” on beds that are the same as those assigned to the first team players. In most rooms, the minibars are included in the rate, and in all of them, there is a SKY connection to watch all Juve matches on TV.

With the trend around the world for stadiums to be part of larger developments for economic reasons, it is likely that the J | Hotel will not be the only football team to partner with a hotel brand.

Russo Law and Soccer Briefs offers a quick glance on stories making news in the world of football.

MLS Expansion Draft 2019| Complete Player List Sorted By Team and Estimated Ranking

MIAMI, Fla. (November 17, 2019) —

This year’s MLS Expansion Draft kicks off at 5:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, November 19, 2019.

A key point is that once a player has been claimed from a club’s list of eligible players, Nashville SC and Inter Miami may no longer select players from that club’s list. So if Inter Miami’s Sporting Director Paul McDonough is going to pick anyone from his former club, he will only be able to tap into his knowledge of Atlanta United once in the expansion draft.

While there aren’t really many big-time goal-scorers to be found in the pool of available players, there is a wealth of pricey veteran defenders. And both expansion teams are already building up strength in midfield/ defensive midfield, they appear to not have much need at those positions in Tuesday’s draft.

For those who want to watch live, MLSsoccer.com’s 2019 MLS Expansion Draft live studio show will bring fans all of the selections in real-time, providing expert analysis on each team’s picks.

With a pool of 220 players, no clear cut favourites and only ten being selected, any attempt to create a “mock draft” is highly speculative at best. Only 4.5 % of the pool is being chosen by Miami or Nashville. That, my friends, makes predictions a guessing game. Disclaimers provided (what else would you expect?), let’s dive into the player pool and highlight a few players to watch.

PLAYERS AVAILABLE FOR SELECTION IN 2019 MLS EXPANSION DRAFT

Available Player List – Sorted By Team

MLS ClubPlayer NamePos.Pts.*
 Atlanta UnitedJustin MeramM96
 Atlanta UnitedMichael ParkhurstD77
 Atlanta UnitedJeff LarentowiczM66
 Atlanta UnitedBrek SheaD52
 Atlanta UnitedFlorentin PogbaD50
 Atlanta UnitedBrandon VazquezF39
 Atlanta UnitedDion PereiraM33
 Atlanta UnitedMikey AmbroseD3
 Atlanta UnitedKevin KratzM1
 Atlanta UnitedJon GallagherD0
 Atlanta UnitedJose HernandezD0
 Atlanta UnitedAlec KannGK0
 Atlanta UnitedBrendan MooreGK0
 Atlanta UnitedLuiz FernandoM0
 Chicago FireBastian SchweinsteigerD161
 Chicago FireNicolas GaitanM145
 Chicago FireNemanja NikolicF120
 Chicago FireDavid OustedGK64
 Chicago FireMarceloD42
 Chicago FireDiego CamposD14
 Chicago FireAmando MorenoM8
 Chicago FireCristian MartinezM5
 Chicago FireStefan ClevelandGK0
 Chicago FireElliot CollierM0
 Chicago FireRichard SanchezGK0
 Colorado RapidsTim HowardGK99
 Colorado RapidsDanny WilsonM61
 Colorado RapidsAxel SjobergD8
 Colorado RapidsNiki JacksonF4
 Colorado RapidsKofi OpareD3
 Colorado RapidsAbdul RwatubyayeD2
 Columbus Crew SCHector JimenezD71
 Columbus Crew SCFederico HiguainM65
 Columbus Crew SCWaylon FrancisD63
 Columbus Crew SCLuis ArgudoM57
 Columbus Crew SCDavid GuzmanM55
 Columbus Crew SCConnor MaloneyD36
 Columbus Crew SCYouness MokhtarM28
 Columbus Crew SCRicardo ClarkM19
 Columbus Crew SCRomario WilliamsF16
 Columbus Crew SCEduardo SosaM14
 Columbus Crew SCJosh WilliamsF10
 Columbus Crew SCJon KempinGK8
 Columbus Crew SCBen LundgaardGK0
 Columbus Crew SCEdward OpokuM0
 FC CincinnatiEmmanuel LedesmaM117
 FC CincinnatiRoland LamahM81
 FC CincinnatiKekuta MannehF77
 FC CincinnatiDarren MattocksF72
 FC CincinnatiPrzemyslaw TytonGK57
 FC CincinnatiCaleb StankoM51
 FC CincinnatiJustin HoyteD35
 FC CincinnatiAlvas PowellD34
 FC CincinnatiFanendo AdiF24
 FC CincinnatiForrest LassoD19
 FC CincinnatiCorben BoneM8
 FC CincinnatiNazmi AlbadawiM1
 FC CincinnatiHassan NdamD0
 FC CincinnatiLogan GdulaD0
 FC CincinnatiJimmy HagueGK0
 FC CincinnatiBen LundtGK0
 FC CincinnatiJimmy McLaughlinM0
 Los Angeles Football ClubJordan HarveyD148
 Los Angeles Football ClubTyler MillerGK139
 Los Angeles Football ClubSteven BeitashourD114
 Los Angeles Football ClubLee NguyenM70
 Los Angeles Football ClubMohamed El-MunirD38
 Los Angeles Football ClubJosh PerezM28
 Los Angeles Football ClubAdrien PerezM17
 Los Angeles Football ClubPeter-Lee VassellM10
 Los Angeles Football ClubDanilo da SilvaD9
 Los Angeles Football ClubRodolfo ZelayaF9
 Los Angeles Football ClubDejan JakovicD6
 Los Angeles Football ClubJavier PerezM1
 Los Angeles Football ClubLamar BatistaD0
 Los Angeles Football ClubPhillip EjimaduGK0
 Los Angeles Football ClubAlejandro GuidoM0
 LA GalaxyZlatan IbrahimovicF272
 LA GalaxyUriel AntunaM129
 LA GalaxyFavio AlvarezM87
 LA GalaxyJorgen SkjelvikD85
 LA GalaxyChris PontiusM51
 LA GalaxyPerry KitchenM32
 LA GalaxyServando CarrascoM21
 LA GalaxyEmil CuelloM14
 LA GalaxyDiedie TraoreD13
 LA GalaxyMatt LampsonGK2
 LA GalaxyJuninho Vitor JuniorM2
 LA GalaxyTomas Hilliard-ArceD0
 LA GalaxyJoão PedroM0
 League Pool GKCharlie LyonGK0
 Minnesota United FCEthan FinlayM111
 Minnesota United FCAngelo RodriguezF93
 Minnesota United FCBrent KallmanD75
 Minnesota United FCMiguel IbarraM60
 Minnesota United FCAbu DanladiF45
 Minnesota United FCRasmus SchullerM45
 Minnesota United FCLawrence OlumM26
 Minnesota United FCWilfried Moimbe-TahratD22
 Minnesota United FCMarlon HairstonM18
 Minnesota United FCCarter ManleyD0
 Minnesota United FCAlly Ng’anziM0
 Minnesota United FCWyatt OmsbergD0
 Minnesota United FCBobby ShuttleworthGK0
 Montreal ImpactEvan BushGK128
 Montreal ImpactMaximiliano UrrutiF114
 Montreal ImpactBacary SagnaD87
 Montreal ImpactRudy CamachoD70
 Montreal ImpactJorge CorralesD56
 Montreal ImpactZachary Brault-GuillardD47
 Montreal ImpactAnthony Jackson-HamelF43
 Montreal ImpactOmar BrowneM38
 Montreal ImpactKen KrolickiM19
 Montreal ImpactRod FanniD17
 Montreal ImpactAmar SejdicM2
 Montreal ImpactJeisson VargasF0
 New England RevolutionJuan AgudeloM95
 New England RevolutionEdgar CastilloD83
 New England RevolutionJuan CaicedoF75
 New England RevolutionMichael MancienneD52
 New England RevolutionJalil AnibabaD28
 New England RevolutionCody CropperGK24
 New England RevolutionBrad KnightonGK21
 New England RevolutionBrian WrightF2
 New York City FCEbenezer OforiM71
 New York City FCSebastien IbeaghaD65
 New York City FCJesus MedinaM53
 New York City FCBen SweatD50
 New York City FCTony RochaD41
 New York City FCGary Mackay-StevenM34
 New York City FCEric MillerD28
 New York City FCBrad StuverGK20
 New York City FCDaniel BedoyaM1
 New York City FCJuan Pablo TorresM1
 New York City FCLuis BarrazaGK0
 New York City FCJeff CaldwellGK0
 New York City FCAbdi MohamedD0
 Orlando City SCBrian RoweGK143
 Orlando City SCLamine SaneD118
 Orlando City SCWill JohnsonM87
 Orlando City SCRobinhoM72
 Orlando City SCSacha KljestanM66
 Orlando City SCCarlos AscuesD63
 Orlando City SCKyle SmithD48
 Orlando City SCShane O’NeillD36
 Orlando City SCCristian HiguitaM33
 Orlando City SCDillon PowersM27
 Orlando City SCAlex De JohnD18
 Orlando City SCGreg RanjitsinghGK7
 Orlando City SCAdam GrinwisGK0
 Philadelphia UnionHaris MedunjaninM196
 Philadelphia UnionMarco FabianM91
 Philadelphia UnionAurelien CollinD21
 Philadelphia UnionWarren CreavalleM20
 Philadelphia UnionOlivier MbaizoD16
 Philadelphia UnionJoe BendikGK13
 Philadelphia UnionFabinhoD1
 Philadelphia UnionMichee NgalinaF1
 Philadelphia UnionRJ AllenD0
 Portland TimbersZarek ValentinD63
 Portland TimbersClaude DielnaD58
 Portland TimbersAndy PoloM49
 Portland TimbersAndres FloresM39
 Portland TimbersJeff AttinellaGK37
 Portland TimbersTomas ConechnyM34
 Portland TimbersRenzo ZambranoM34
 Portland TimbersDairon AsprillaM31
 Portland TimbersModou JadamaD2
 Portland TimbersAljaz IvacicGK0
 Portland TimbersKendall McIntoshGK0
 Real Salt LakeNick RimandoGK138
 Real Salt LakeKelyn RoweM38
 Real Salt LakeJoão PlataM25
 Real Salt LakeJustin PortilloM5
 Real Salt LakeLuke MulhollandM1
 Real Salt LakeTony BeltranD0
 Real Salt LakeAlex HorwathGK0
 Real Salt LakePablo RuizM0
 San Jose EarthquakesHarold CummingsD71
 San Jose EarthquakesMarcos LopezD61
 San Jose EarthquakesPaul MarieD15
 San Jose EarthquakesCarlos FierroM11
 San Jose EarthquakesFrancois AffolterD3
 San Jose EarthquakesEric CalvilloM2
 San Jose EarthquakesLuis FelipeM2
 San Jose EarthquakesKevin PartidaD1
 San Jose EarthquakesMatt BersanoGK0
 San Jose EarthquakesJimmy OckfordD0
 San Jose EarthquakesAndrew TarbellGK0
 Seattle Sounders FCHarry ShippM93
 Seattle Sounders FCVictor RodriguezM73
 Seattle Sounders FCRoman TorresD63
 Seattle Sounders FCSaad Abdul-SalaamD50
 Seattle Sounders FCChad MarshallD41
 Seattle Sounders FCWill BruinF27
 Seattle Sounders FCAlex RoldanM23
 Seattle Sounders FCJonathan CampbellD17
 Seattle Sounders FCJustin DhillonF9
 Seattle Sounders FCLuis SilvaF8
 Seattle Sounders FCEmanuel CecchiniM6
 Seattle Sounders FCBryan MeredithGK0
 Sporting Kansas CityBenny FeilhaberM102
 Sporting Kansas CityKrisztian NemethF89
 Sporting Kansas CityBotond BarathD85
 Sporting Kansas CitySeth SinovicD80
 Sporting Kansas CityAndreu FontasD38
 Sporting Kansas CityNicolas HaslerD28
 Sporting Kansas CityGedion ZelalemM16
 Sporting Kansas CityJimmy MedrandaD13
 Sporting Kansas CityEric DickGK1
 Sporting Kansas CityRodney WallaceD1
 Toronto FCJustin MorrowD100
 Toronto FCLaurent CimanD57
 Toronto FCTsubasa EndohM50
 Toronto FCDrew MoorD47
 Toronto FCEriq ZavaletaD41
 Toronto FCPatrick MullinsF31
 Toronto FCNicolas BenezetM28
 Toronto FCAshtone MorganD14
 Toronto FCRyan TelferD5
 Toronto FCJon BakeroM0
 Toronto FCCaleb Patterson-SewellGK0

A note about the points used to rank the player pool: The points gathered come from this years’s MLS Fantasy Game. While that is obviously a less-than-ideal way to rank a player’s potential, it is an attempt to provide some guidance based on a player’s performance over the 2019 season. A player who has a ‘0’ for his score doesn’t mean that he is not worth a look. It simply reflects that he lacked playing time during the past season.

The Russo Soccer Top 50 Players in 2019 Expansion Draft

Peruvian International Winger Andy Polo of the Portland Timbers (left) is among the players available to Inter Miami CF or Nashville SC. | photo: Portland Timbers

Overview

With teams only being able to protect twelve senior roster slot players, most teams left second and/or third string goalkeepers unprotected. Also, players who have announced their retirement but who are under contract until the end of the year were also naturally left unprotected. Zlatan Ibrahimovitch of the LA Galaxy has announced his departure from MLS, and thus was a natural choice to make the Galaxy’s unprotected player list. The list also features more than a few high-priced older players.

Players To Watch

Forwards

Atlanta United’s Brandon Vasquez is a strong choice to be selected by Inter Miami CF. Vazquez signed with Atlanta United as a Discovery Signing via transfer from Club Tijuana on Dec. 2, 2016. He made eight appearances as a substitute as a forward/winger in MLS and two starts in US Open Cup in 2018. Vazquez scored just a minute into his MLS debut at Real Salt Lake on April 22, 2017 and added two goals and an assist in two US Open Cup starts in 2017. This past season saw him have limited time, appearing in 11 matches, scoring 2 goals and adding 1 assist across 637 minutes played. He was recently added to the US Under 23 Men’s National Team, coached by Inter Miami’s Jason Kreis, ahead of their 2-0 win in a friendly against Japan. Vasquez was in that squad and earned an appearance, coming on in the 72nd minute.

Atlanta United’s Brandon Vasquez, a top choice in the expansion draft. | Photo: Atlanta United FC

New England Revolution forward Juan Caicedo is also a player to watch. The Colombian joined the Revs from Independiente Medellin and has experience playing in the Colombian first division. He has tallied 89 goals in nearly 300 appearances across all competitions through nine professional seasons in the top divisions of Colombia and Argentina and has experience in the Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana. He appeared in 27 games for New England, starting 13 and scoring five goals.

Juan Fernando Caicedo | Photo: New England Revolution

Montréal Impact forward Maximiliano Urruti would offer a combination of skill and MLS experience. The 28-year old Argentine originally came to MLS in 2013 as a high-profile signing by Toronto FC from Newell’s Old Boys of Argentina. The Impact acquired him via a trade with FC Dallas in December 2018. He made 31 appearances for the Les Montréalais during the 2019 season, starting 27 of those matches and netting 4 goals on a team that failed to create enough scoring chances and often struggled to find a rhythm under former coach Remi Garde.

Maximiliano Urruti, Impact de Montréal | Photo: TSN

Midfielders

LA Galaxy’s Uriel Antuna, already a Mexican international, is one of the top players in the expansion draft. The 22 year-old speedy winger who is on loan from Manchester City has drawn interest from both Chivas de Guadalajara and Portuguese giants Sport Lisboa e Benfica. Antuna is believed to have signed a contract extension with City through 2022. He remains on loan with the Galaxy through the end of the season but his future beyond that point has not been determined. He scored 6 goals and contributed 5 assists for the Galaxy during the 2019 season.

Uriel Antuna, 22, of the Los Angeles Galaxy, left, shown competing with LAFC’s Lee Nyugen, another player available in this year’s expansion draft. | Photo: USA Today

Seattle Sounders midfielder Victor Rodriguez is an experienced, versatile, attacking threat who can play on either wing or as an attacking midfielder. The veteran has over 127 appearances in LaLiga dating back to the 2012-13 season he spent with Real Zaragoza. Rumours in a Seattle say that Rodriguez wants to return to Spain for personal reasons. However he might be a gamble someone’s willing to take, because he might well be the best available player and has a low cost-to-skill ratio. He helped to seal the victory over Toronto in MLs Cup with a wonderful shot from the edge of the penalty box that eluded goalkeeper Quentin Westberg in the 76th minute. After winning the MLS Cup MVP, he’s no longer flying under the radar, either. I could see Miami selecting him and using TAM money to give him a raise, also making his trips home to Barcelona much easier.

Victor Rodriguez | Photo: Lindsey Wasson / Seattle Sounders FC

Haris Medunjanin isn’t typically mentioned in discussions about marquee players brought into MLS from overseas in recent years. But given the season he had in 2019 for the Philadelphia Union, perhaps he should be. A former Bosnia and Herzegovina national team player, at 34 years of age, is among a bunch of veterans left unprotected by their teams. Medunjanin has played a key role in the Union’s offense since arriving from Israeli club Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2017. Positionally, he has played as a deep-lying No. 10 given his wide range of passing. But when Philly adopted a new system in 2019, he took on more defensive responsibilities as a No. 6. He’s also very durable, starting all 34 of the Union’s games this past season. Off the pitch, he has embraced the role of being a veteran leader and role-model for younger players, providing advice and constructive criticism on their play. On this point, he told mlssoccer.com: “I know myself when I was younger, it was harder and you played with a lot of more-experienced players and they would be like cursing you out when you did something wrong,” Medunjanin said. “Like that you learn, and sometimes as a player we should be hard on the younger players to get better.” Medunjanin is out of contract, so the choosing team would have to strike a new deal with him.

Haris Medunjanin of the Philadelphia Union is near the top of our list of available players | Photo: The Athletic

Atlanta United FC’s Justin Meram, a veteran MLS winger who spent five seasons with the Columbus Crew, was traded to Atlanta and was a contributor to both the regular season and the U.S. Open Cup during the 2019 campaign. He also plays on the Iraq National Team. He quickly became a fan favourite in Atlanta. “I’m very thankful for the fans bringing me in as one of their own from the get go,” he said. “They didn’t really look back on the past year I had, a little bit of the struggles. They looked at me as, ‘This guy could help.’ That gave me a little bit of confidence coming in.”

Jun 29, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta United forward Justin Meram (14) reacts after scoring his second goal of the match against the Montreal Impact during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City midfielder Robinho (Francisco Wellington Barbosa de Lisboa) at age 24, is still a player with potential. The native of Recife, PE, Brazil was acquired by Orlando from Columbus Crew during the summer transfer window. The Brazilian midfielder last played for Ceará Sporting Club in Brazil’s First Division during the second half of the 2018 season, where he made two appearances in the Brazilian First Division – Serie A – following a loan stint at Santa Cruz Futebol Clube of Brazil’s Third Division during the first half of the 2018 season. While at Santa Cruz, Robinho made 37 appearances across all competitions for Santa Cruz, scoring eight goals. Robinho shows signs of being a creative player who can help unlock defenses with his movement and pace. He can provide some speed and quality out on the edge of the pitch and is an affordable player.

Robinho | Foto: Divulgação

It’s worth noting that an Atlanta United veteran who has had an exemplary career in MLS is also on the list of available players. I would of course be referring to none other than midfielder Jeff Laurentowicz, 36, who studied and played at Brown University.

Defenders

Orlando City SC Lamine Sané is one of the top ranked defenders among available players. The 32-year-old French born Senegalese international just completed his second season with the Lions, after spending the previous two seasons with Bundesliga side Werder Bremen. Sané is the vocal leader of the back line, shouting out instructions from the first to the last whistle. He featured in 26 games this season at Orlando, starting all but one of those matches. Orlando City coach James O’Connor brought Sané to the forefront this past season, moving to a four-back defensive platform and placing him alongside the Swede Robin Jansson. Sané’s height, at 6 feet, 4 inches (1.72 m) is an asset, allowing him to cut down corners and crosses.

Aug 3, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando City defender Ludovic Lamine Sane (22) and FC Dallas midfielder Santiago Mosquera (11) fight for the ball during the second half at Exploria Stadium. Photo: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Olivier Mbaizo of the Philadelphia Union could be a good choice for either Miami or Nashville. The 22-year-old right back from Douala, Cameroon hasn’t seen much playing time with the Union, losing some time to injuries, and thus didn’t make the top 50 list above. However, he has much potential, is not overpriced, and already is a regular on the national teams of his native Cameroon. It came as a surprise to many followers of the Union to see him among the unprotected players. Mbaizo is also likely to have some significant sale value in the future. This month, he has played for Cameroon’s national team at the under-23 men’s Africa Cup of Nations. He was on the field for every minute of the group stage, and helped set up the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Mali. The team, however, ended up finishing third in the group stage and fell short of the semifinals.

Olivier Mbaizo, Philadelphia Union | Photo: Philadelphia Union

Los Angeles Football Club defender Mohamed El-Munir is fast and displays excellent control on the ball. The Libyan international has 19 caps for his country and made 15 appearances for LAFC this past season.

Mohamed El-Munir | Photo: Los Angeles Football Club

San Jose Earthquakes defender Marcos Lopez, who is only 20 years old, would be a choice based on potential future dividends. The native of Callao, Peru transferred to San Jose from Sporting Cristal Lima and signed a multi-year contract ahead of the 2019 season. Lopez is a young left back that has already made an international appearance with Peru in August 2018 at the age of 18 when he appeared in a game against Germany. He can also play further up the pitch as a left winger. Lopez has a very successful first season with Sporting Cristal Lima, helping the club have a +62 goal differential, the best in the Peruvian league, and helped them earn qualification to the Copa Libertadores group stage. He played in 18 games for the Quakes in 2019, starting 15. This month he was called to the Peru National Team for a pair of international friendlies against Colombia (played last Friday at Hard Rock Stadium) and Chile.

Marcos Lopez (right) | photo: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Goalkeepers

Among the numerous goalkeepers on the unprotected list, several have accumulated significant experience in MLS. Most teams. Among them are Orlando City’s Brian Rowe, who is 31, and longtime Impact de Montréal keeper Evan Bush, who is 33.

Evan Bush of the Impact de Montréal has been consistently good for several seasons. An MLS original with the Impact, Bush completed his eighth season with Montréal. In 2018, he had a career-high 10 clean sheets and was the MLS’ top goalkeeper according to the Audi Player Index. He had a breakout season in 2015, starting 31 games, after only starting 15 games across his first three MLS seasons. He was a finalist for the 2015 Concacaf Goalkeeper of the Year award, following an outstanding Concacaf Champions League campaign in 2015 that saw him win the CCL Golden Glove award.

Montreal Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush (1) blocks a shot on goal by the San Jose Earthquakes during the first half of an MLS soccer match in San Jose, Calif., on March 2, 2019. | Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Tony Avelar

Brian Rowe of Orlando City SC is another available keeper. The 31-year-old goalkeeper completed his eighth season in MLS in 2019, after beginning his career in Los Angeles with the Galaxy in 2012. He earned 7 clean sheets in 2019, playing in 32 games for Orlando City. Rowe was exceptional in 2016 with the Galaxy, where he recorded 31 appearances, earning nine clean sheets and earning a 1.07 goals-against average en route to the playoffs. During that 2016 season, Rowe allowed the fewest goals (33) in MLS by any goalkeeper that appeared in a minimum of 30 matches. Rowe also finished third in MLS with 113 saves.

A younger choice at goalkeeper would be Los Angeles Football Club’s Tyler Miller. The 26-year old keeper started 28 games for LAFC this past season. He posted nine clean sheets in the process. Miller was the number one choice at goalkeeper up until last summer’s Gold Cup.Thereafter, he split time with Pablo Sisniega, whom LAFC chose to protect in the expansion draft. A player of Miller’s calibre is a tempting choice for either Inter Miami or Nashville. By leaving him unprotected, LAFC might be hoping he is selected, thus ensuring that none of their other unprotected players can be taken. It would be one way of solving the debate at goal keeper, and not having to renegotiate a contract for Miller, who is out of contract in Los Angeles.

LAFC GK Tyler Miller | Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Danish goalkeeper David Ousted of the Chicago Fire, 34, is also available. Ousted has been a starter for most of his six seasons in MLS, including five with the Vancouver Whitecaps. He is considered one of the more consistent keepers in the league, and holds numerous club records for Vancouver including wins, clean sheets and starts. He was finalist for goalkeeper of the year honours in 2015 with the Caps, who also won the Voyageur Cup (Canadian Championship) that year.

David Ousted | Photo: Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

Two 40 year-old goalkeepers were left unprotected, but both have already announced their retirements. Nick Raimondo of Real Salt Lake was one of the best goalkeepers in MLS history. The legendary Tim Howard has also announced his retirement from the game.

Conclusion

Whatever the results of this expansion draft, there are certainly some quality players that Inter Miami and Nashville can acquire to assist them in building their initial rosters. The players they select can of course also be used in trades for other players, draft choices, allocation money or international player slots, so it’s not necessarily the player you obtain, but what you could acquire in exchange for that player.

It’s an interesting time of the year in MLS.

La liste des joueurs protégés par l’Impact de Montréal en vue du repêchage d’expansion | List of Protected Players

MONTRÉAL – 16 Novembre, 2019 11:48 heure de l’est

Communiqué:

L’Impact de Montréal a dévoilé samedi la liste de ses 12 joueurs protégés en vue du repêchage d’expansion, qui aura lieu ce mardi 19 novembre à 17:30 HE.

L’Impact a protégé les joueurs suivants:

  • le gardien Clément Diop,
  • les défenseurs Victor Cabrera, Daniel Lovitz et Jukka Raitala,
  • les milieux de terrain Bojan, Lassi Lappalainen, Orji Okwonkwo, Ignacio Piatti, Samuel Piette, Saphir Taïder, Shamit Shome et Ballou Tabla.

Les joueurs membres du programme Génération adidas de la MLS qui n’ont pas gradué à la fin de la saison 2019, de même que les joueurs formés au club faisant partie de l’effectif et âgés de 25 ans et moins, sont exclus du processus, c’est-à-dire Jason Beaulieu, Mathieu Choinière, Clément Bayiha, James Pantemis, Daniel Kinumbe, Karifa Yao et Thomas Meilleur-Giguère.

Joueurs Non-Protégé

Les joueurs suivants peuvent donc être sélectionnés lors du repêchage d’expansion:

  • Zachary Brault-Guillard
  • Omar Browne
  • Evan Bush
  • Rudy Camacho
  • Jorge Corrales
  • Rod Fanni
  • Anthony Jackson-Hamel (Il est disponible au repêchage puisqu’il est un joueur formé au club âgé de 25 ans et plus.)
  • Ken Krolicki
  • Bacary Sagna
  • Amar Sejdic
  • Maximiliano Urruti
  • Jeisson Vargas.

L’Inter Miami CF et Nashville SC, qui amorceront leurs activités en MLS l’an prochain, pourront chacun sélectionner cinq joueurs parmi les joueurs non protégés des autres équipes, excluant les équipes qui ont vu un de leurs joueurs être choisi par le FC Cincinnati l’an dernier, soit D.C. United, les Vancouver Whitecaps FC, le FC Dallas, le Houston Dynamo et les New York Red Bulls.

Notons que les équipes pourront perdre un joueur maximum lors de ce repêchage.


List of protected players by Montreal Impact ahead of MLS expansion draft

The Montreal Impact unveiled on Saturday its list of 12 protected players in preparation for the expansion draft taking place this Tuesday, November 19.

The Impact protected goalkeeper Clément Diop, defenders Victor Cabrera, Daniel Lovitz and Jukka Raitala, as well as midfielders Bojan, Lassi Lappalainen, Orji Okwonkwo, Ignacio Piatti, Samuel Piette, Saphir Taïder, Shamit Shome and Ballou Tabla.

Players who are members of the Generation adidas program who haven’t graduated at the end of the 2019 season, as well as homegrown players part of the roster and aged 25 and under, are not part of the process. Those players are Jason Beaulieu, Mathieu Choinière, Clément Bayiha, James Pantemis, Daniel Kinumbe, Karifa Yao and Thomas Meilleur-Giguère.

Unprotected Players

The following players can be selected during the expansion draft:

  • Zachary Brault-Guillard
  • Omar Browne
  • Evan Bush
  • Rudy Camacho
  • Jorge Corrales
  • Rod Fanni
  • Anthony Jackson-Hamel (available, even though he’s a homegrown player, because he’s aged 25 and over.)
  • Ken Krolicki
  • Bacary Sagna
  • Amar Sejdic
  • Maximiliano Urruti
  • Jeisson Vargas.

Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC, who will both play their inaugural MLS season in 2020, can each pick five players among those who are not protected from other teams, excluding the teams that saw one of their players chosen by Los Angeles FC last year. Those teams are D.C. United, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo and the New York Red Bulls.

Teams can lose only up to one player during the expansion draft.

MLS Offseason Calendar Starts Today

MIAMI, Fla. (November 11, 2019)—

Today marks the beginning of the MLS offseason player movement calendar. 

The action will start with a 55-hour window starting at 1 pm ET today in which teams may sign and trade players.

Other important dates include the MLS Expansion Draft on Nov. 19, which you will be able to watch on MLSsoccer.com and the MLS mobile app, 

Also, the deadline for clubs to exercise options that are contained in some players’ contracts is on November 21.

For players who qualify, the opening of free agency is on November 25. 

You can read more about the rules and procedures surrounding the various drafts, the criteria for qualification and the processes for player movement at the Russo Law and Soccer website. Links are below:

Re-Entry Draft Rules And Procedures

Expansion Draft Rules And Procedures

End-Of-Year Waivers Rules And Procedures

Complete 2019 MLS Offseason Calendar

The complete offseason calendar is outlined below:

Nov. 11, 1:00 PM ET

Trade Window Opens
Following a 10-week roster freeze, MLS clubs may sign and trade players.

Nov. 13, 8:00 PM ET

Trade Window Closes and Blackout Period Begins
Blackout Period begins whereby clubs may no longer sign and/or trade players until conclusion of 2019 Expansion Draft.

Nov. 14

Club Deadline to submit Bona Fide Offers
MLS clubs notify the League Office in writing of players who have been extended a bona fide offer.

Nov. 19, 5:00 PM ET

2019 MLS Expansion Draft
Watch live in the MLS app or on MLSsoccer.com. Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC may select up to five players each from the eligible player list. The list of players eligible for selection in the 2019 MLS Expansion Draft will be released on Nov. 16 at 10:00 AM ET:

Expansion Draft Rules And Procedures

Nov. 21, 1:00 PM ET

Club Deadline to Exercise Options
MLS clubs notify the League Office in writing of players whose options they are exercising.

Nov. 25, 3:00 PM ET

End-of-Year Waivers
The End-of-Year Waivers process is conducted in reverse order of 2019 season finish, taking into account postseason performance. Per the Expansion Priority Draft, Nashville SC will have the 25th pick and Inter Miami CF will have the final selection in each round.

Eligible for selection are players who do not meet the minimum requirements for Re-Entry Process or Free Agency. The list of players eligible for the End-of-Year Waivers will be released on Nov. 22: End-Of-Year Waivers Rules And Procedures

Nov. 25, 3:00 PM ET

Free Agency Opens
Clubs may engage with players, other than their own, that are eligible for Free Agency. Free Agency eligible players are out-of-contract and option-declined players who are at least 28 years old and who have completed a minimum of eight service years. The complete list of Free Agents will be released on Nov. 22.

Nov. 26, 3:00 PM ET

2019 MLS Re-Entry Process – Stage 1
The Re-Entry Process, Stage 2 is conducted in the same format as Stage 1 and consists of MLS players who were not selected in the Stage 1. Not all unselected Stage 1 players will be available for selection as players may re-sign with their previous club between stages or may opt out of the process.

The list of players eligible for selection in the Re-Entry Process – Stage 1 will be released on Nov. 22: Re-Entry Draft Rules And Procedures

Dec. 3, 3:00 PM ET

2019 MLS Re-Entry Process – Stage 2
The Re-Entry Process is conducted in reverse order of 2019 season finish, taking into account postseason performance. Per the Expansion Priority Draft, Nashville SC will have the 25th pick and Inter Miami CF will have the final selection in each round.

The list of players eligible for selection in the Re-Entry Process – Stage 2 will be released on Nov. 3 at 10:00 AM ET: Re-Entry Draft Rules And Procedures

Manager “De Moda” – Does His Mobile Boarding Pass Say BCN or MIA?

MIAMI, Fla. (November 5, 2019) —

Marcelo Daniel Gallardo ticks most of the boxes on two teams’ managerial checklists.

Marcelo Gallardo has put together an impressive CV in his six years in South America. Mike Hewitt – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

He’s one of the front runners to be the first manager of Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, he is reportedly a front runner to take the helm of a much larger, more famous club. A club whose tag line is “More Than A Club.” For 43-year-old Club Atlético River Plate coach Marcelo Gallardo, whose baby-faced appearance has earned him the nicknamed “El Muñeco – the Doll,” it’s an enviable position to be in no doubt.

Manchester City coach Pep Gallardo thinks very highly of Gallardo.

“Lo que ha hecho Gallardo en River es increíble. A nivel resultados, de darle consistencia, y otro año y otro año. Y se van jugadores pero sigue estando a nivel”.

“What Gallardo has done with River is incredible,” Guardiola told an Argentine TV station. “Some things are inexplicable. Every year three coaches are named as the best in the world, and he’s never among them. I can’t understand it. It’s as if there’s nothing else in the world apart from Europe.”

Recently he has been linked as the successor to Ernesto Valverde at Barcelona. Valverde’s contract is expiring on June 30, 2020 and it’s all but certain he will not be back. It is also certain that Lionel Messi approves of Gallardo as a replacement, having already referred to him as “one of the best.” Leo voted El Muñeco the third best coach in the world at FIFA’s The Best Awards, and that vote surely was heard by the Catalan club’s board. Having Messi’s ‘approval’ would be an important factor in deciding whether to hire a new coach. Another Blaugrana great, Andres Iniesta, who is currently playing for Vissel Kobe in the J-League, said “El trabajo que está haciendo Gallardo es sensacional.” (“The work Gallardo is doing is sensational.”)

What are Gallardo’s credentials that have him to linked to one of the most storied clubs in the world? In short, it’s his combination of youth, experience, a commitment to attacking football and an impressive CV as a player.

Now in his sixth year in charge, he has experienced great success at River; he has won the Copa Libertadores twice, and will have a chance to make that three in this year’s final later this month against Flamengo. Managing a club for six years is extremely rare in South America. Demands and needs change quickly due to the fact that the best players are continuously being sold off, mostly to Europe. As Guardiola pointed out, at River Plate “every year the players leave, but the work continues.”

Compensating for this has given Gallardo a depth of experience beyond his years and certainly beyond the baby-faced appearance that has left him dubbed “El Muñeco – the Doll.”

Gallardo is credited with being proficient at reading the opposition, accurately assessing his own resources and making adjustments to the tactical plan, all without confusing his players. When he first took over at River, he used a 4-4-2 formation, featuring the old-fashioned Argentine diamond — a holder in front of the centre-backs, two mixed midfielders either side and the traditional No. 10, the position Gallardo had played.

On occasions he has even shifted to a back three — the first leg of last year’s Libertadores final against Boca the most notable.

Marcelo Gallardo guided River Plate to the 2018 Copa Libertadores title over Boca Juniors. Denis Doyle/Getty Images

He was a top-class attacking midfielder in his playing days, subtle and skillful, with over 40 caps and two World Cups for Argentina to his credit. His playing career is mostly associated with River Plate, but he also played in Ligue Un (France) with Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco. He also played in MLS and at Nacional de Montivideo. where he ended his playing days and promptly started coaching the side, taking them to the Uruguayan league title.

Gallardo played in two World Cups: France1998 and Korea-Japan 2002

The next test will be the Copa Libertadores final, now a one game final. It should be a tough challenge, as Flamengo is an attacking team under Portuguese coach Jorge Jesus.

If River prevail they will once again head to the FIFA Club World Cup — the one tournament where Gallardo has always come up short. In 2015, his side scraped by with a 1-0 semifinal win over Sanfrecce Hiroshima of Japan, before being overwhelmed in the final against Barcelona, 3-0. Last year, River did not even make the final, falling on penalties to Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates.

Regardless of the Club World Cup, a tournament that is not widely followed, Gallardo is the “in-demand” coach of the moment. Spanish press call him “El director técnico de moda.”

Both Barcelona and Miami have maintained contact with people connected to Gallardo, according to Argentinean publications. It was also reported that Miami Sporting Director Paul McDonough had been to Argentina during the past few months. Gallardo has been very smart, with indications that he will not sit down and talk about a possible exit until after River’s last game this year. That would be in December when the Argentina Superliga season ends.

For Miami, hiring an Argentine coach makes sense, seeing that the first two players the club signed are both from Argentina, making for an instant cultural connection for two promising players. It is also a strategy that worked well for Inter Miami McDonough when he was with Atlanta United. It was clear from early on indicated that the Five Stripes were going be very ambitious by building top-of-the-line training grounds, spending significant sums in MLS terms to acquire players and hiring an internationally well-known coach in Tata Martino, who had once led FC Barcelona and the Argentinian national team.

Inter Miami CF is overdue for announcing its head coach. Managing owner Jorge Mas previously said he was expecting to have a coach named by the end of summer, then changed it to the end of September, and later changed to the end of October. That date has now come and gone. As each day passes without a coach being named, the most plausible explanation I can think of is that the head coach is someone who is still busy. Marcelo Gallardo clearly fits that description. What else would explain the hold up?

I’ve written before about the shortlist of top coaching candidates for the new club. While only those inside the negotiations can say for sure (which obviously they won’t), if the first head coach was going to be Santiago Solari or Gennaro Gattuso, or any other manager not currently employed, it’s hard to understand why that person is not already in Miami helping to plan for the inaugural season.

Photo: DobleAmarilla.com

The Copa Libertadores Final is November 23. If that mobile boarding pass says ‘MIA’ we can expect a coaching announcement at the end of this month.

Read more | Relacionado

A Coach In Demand: Gallardo Could End Up At Barcelona … Or Will He Be In Miami?

MIAMI, Fla. (November 1, 2019) —

Marcelo Daniel Gallardo ticks most of the boxes on two teams’ managerial checklists.

Marcelo Gallardo has put together an impressive CV in his six years in South America. Mike Hewitt – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

He’s one of the front runners to be the first manager of Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, he is reportedly a front runner to take the helm of a much larger, more famous club. A club whose tag line is “More Than A Club.” For 43-year-old Club Atlético River Plate coach Marcelo Gallardo, whose baby-faced appearance has earned him the nicknamed “El Muñeco – the Doll,” it’s an enviable position to be in no doubt.

Manchester City coach Pep Gallardo thinks very highly of Gallardo.

“Lo que ha hecho Gallardo en River es increíble. A nivel resultados, de darle consistencia, y otro año y otro año. Y se van jugadores pero sigue estando a nivel”.

“What Gallardo has done with River is incredible,” Guardiola told an Argentine TV station. “Some things are inexplicable. Every year three coaches are named as the best in the world, and he’s never among them. I can’t understand it. It’s as if there’s nothing else in the world apart from Europe.”

Recently he has been linked as the successor to Ernesto Valverde at Barcelona. Valverde’s contract is expiring on June 30, 2020 and it’s all but certain he will not be back. It is also certain that Lionel Messi approves of Gallardo as a replacement, having already referred to him as “one of the best.” Leo voted El Muñeco the third best coach in the world at FIFA’s The Best Awards, and that vote surely was heard by the Catalan club’s board. Having Messi’s ‘approval’ would be an important factor in deciding whether to hire a new coach. Another Blaugrana great, Andres Iniesta, who is currently playing for Vissel Kobe in the J-League, said “El trabajo que está haciendo Gallardo es sensacional.” (“The work Gallardo is doing is sensational.”)

What are Gallardo’s credentials that have him to linked to one of the most storied clubs in the world? In short, it’s his combination of youth, experience, a commitment to attacking football and an impressive CV as a player.

Now in his sixth year in charge, he has experienced great success at River; he has won the Copa Libertadores twice, and will have a chance to make that three in this year’s final later this month against Flamengo. Managing a club for six years is extremely rare in South America. Demands and needs change quickly due to the fact that the best players are continuously being sold off, mostly to Europe. As Guardiola pointed out, at River Plate “every year the players leave, but the work continues.”

Compensating for this has given Gallardo a depth of experience beyond most coaches of his experience.

Gallardo is credited with being proficient at reading the opposition, accurately assessing his own resources and making adjustments to the tactical plan, all without confusing his players. When he first took over at River, he used a 4-4-2 formation, featuring the old-fashioned Argentine diamond — a holder in front of the centre-backs, two mixed midfielders either side and the traditional No. 10, the position Gallardo had played.

On occasions he has even shifted to a back three — the first leg of last year’s Libertadores final against Boca being a prime example.

Marcelo Gallardo guided River Plate to the 2018 Copa Libertadores title over Boca Juniors. Denis Doyle/Getty Images

He was a top-class attacking midfielder in his playing days, subtle and skillful, with over 40 caps and two World Cups for Argentina to his credit. His playing career is mostly associated with River Plate, but he also played in Ligue Un (France) with Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco. He also played in MLS and at Nacional de Montivideo. where he ended his playing days and promptly started coaching the side, taking them to the Uruguayan league title.

Gallardo played in two World Cups: France1998 and Korea-Japan 2002

The next test will be the Copa Libertadores final, now a one game final. It should be a tough challenge, as Flamengo is an attacking team under Portuguese coach Jorge Jesus.

If River prevail they will once again head to the FIFA Club World Cup — the one tournament where Gallardo has always come up short. In 2015, his side scraped by with a 1-0 semifinal win over Sanfrecce Hiroshima of Japan, before being overwhelmed in the final against Barcelona, 3-0. Last year, River did not even make the final, falling on penalties to Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates.

Regardless of the Club World Cup, a tournament that is not widely followed, Gallardo is the “in-demand” coach of the moment. Spanish press call him “El director técnico de moda.”

Both Barcelona and Miami have maintained contact with people connected to Gallardo, according to Argentinean publications. It was also reported that Miami Sporting Director Paul McDonough had been to Argentina during the past few months. Whether this was to talk to people connected with the coach or to talk to potential players is not known. For his part, Gallardo has been very smart, with indications that he will not sit down and talk about a possible exit until after River’s last game this year. Strictly speaking that would be in December when the Argentina Superliga season ends.

For Miami, hiring an Argentine coach makes sense, seeing that the first two players the club signed are both from Argentina, making for an instant cultural connection for two promising players. It is also a strategy that worked well for Inter Miami Sporting Director Paul McDonough when he was with Atlanta United. It was clear from early on indicated that the Five Stripes were going be very ambitious by building top-of-the-line training grounds, spending significant sums in MLS terms to acquire players and hiring an internationally well-known coach in Tata Martino, who had once led FC Barcelona and the Argentinean national team.

Inter Miami CF is overdue for announcing its head coach. Managing owner Jorge Mas previously said he was expecting to have a coach named by the end of September, later changed to October. That date has now come and gone. As each day passes without a coach being named, the most plausible explanation I can think of is that the head coach is someone who is still busy. Marcelo Gallardo clearly fits that description. What else would explain the hold up?

I’ve written before about the shortlist of top coaching candidates for the new club. While only those inside the negotiations can say for sure (which obviously they won’t), if the first head coach was going to be Santiago Solari or Gennaro Gattuso, or any other manager not currently employed, it’s hard to understand why that person is not already in Miami helping to plan for the inaugural season.

The Copa Libertadores Final is November 23. If you ask me, there will be a coaching announcement at the end of this month.

Read more | Relacionado