Britain’s most famous MLS head coaches including Rooney, Neville, Nicol and many more

MLS has not always been a happy hunting ground for former Premier League players and internationals who have taken the plunge to become head coach.

With Wayne Rooney joining MLS with DC United, once his The P-1 visa is over, Planet Sport takes a look at the good and bad sides of British managers in MLS.

Phil Neville

Clubs managed: Inter Miami

After a very ordinary stint as women’s manager of England, where he won the SheBelieves tournament in 2019 but failed to win the World Cup and suffered a terrible run of seven defeats in 11 games, Neville resigned in January 2021.

Luckily for him, his former England and Manchester United team-mate David Beckham needed a head coach for the Inter Miami job to replace Diego Alonso, who left in early January.

They had a quick coffee, Beckham gave Neville the job, and he took them to a very ordinary 11th in the 2021 Eastern Conference, 20th out of 26th overall in MLS.

Neville also doesn’t have much joy in his second season at Inter Miami, currently 10th and out of the playoffs.

Steve Nicol

Clubs Managed: Boston Bulldogs, New England Revolution

The former Liverpool and Scotland defender is arguably the most successful British manager in MLS. He ranks sixth in all-time regular season games won by a manager, but failed to transfer that success by winning the MLS Cup with the New England Revolution.

Nicol spent ten seasons at the Revs, as interim manager in 1999 and then full-time from 2002 to 2011. The club finished runners-up in the MLS Cup four times during his tenure, including three consecutive seasons between 2005 and 2007.

He lifted a piece of silverware in the 2007 US Open Cup, beating FC Dallas 3-2.

Adrian Heath

Clubs Managed: Austin Aztex, Orlando City, Minnesota United

Former Everton striker Adrian Heath moved to the United States after short managerial spells at Burnley, Sheffield United and Coventry City, as a goalkeeper.

His first role in the United States came on the side of the now disbanded Austin Aztex expansion. In 2011, the club moved to Orlando in the USL Pro division, with Heath still in charge. He brought instant success to the club, winning the Pro League title in 2011 and 2013, and the Commissioners Cup in 2011, 2012 and 2014.

Heath was unable to transfer his initial success to MLS when Orlando City became an expansion franchise in 2015, and he was sacked in July 2016.

Minnesota United signed Heath for his first season in MLS in 2017 and they finished 9th in the Western Conference, becoming the only team in MLS history to concede five or more goals in consecutive games.

The Loons struggled again in 2018, finishing 10th in the Conference, but improved in subsequent seasons to qualify for the play-offs in 2019 and the semi-finals in 2020.

Heath also led Minnesota to the US Open Cup final in 2019, where they were beaten 2-1 by Atlanta United.

Gary Smith

Clubs Managed – Colorado Rapids, Atlanta Silverbacks, Nashville SC

A midfielder with an unremarkable career in the lower leagues of English football, traveled to Colorado to initially establish Arsenal’s academy, due to the strategic link between the clubs. However, in 2008 he was named head coach of the Rapids, with the team bottom of the table.

Smith transformed the club in 2010. After finishing 5th in the Western Conference, the Rapids won the MLS Cup after beating FC Dallas 2-1 in the final. The Rapids’ first major trophy.

Smith left the Rapids at the end of the 2011 season after failing to beat Sporting Kansas City in the play-off semi-finals.

After spending time with Stevenage in the UK and the Atlanta Silverbacks in the NASL, Smith joined new USL Nashville SC in 2017. The club joined MLS as an expansion team in 2020 and Smith signed them led to the Eastern Conference Semifinals in their first season. .

Colin Clark

Clubs Managed: Richmond Kickers, San Diego Flash, FC Dallas, Virginia Beach Mariners, Puerto Rico Islanders, Puerto Rico, North Carolina FC

Clarke, a Northern Ireland international with 38 caps to his name, has made a name for himself as a manager in the United States.

He started with short stints at the Richmond Kickers and the San Diego Flash, before winning the MLS Western Conference with FC Dallas in 2006. However, he was sacked after losing on penalties in the play-offs.

He spent four years with the Puerto Rico Islanders where he won the Commissioner’s Cup in 2008 and back-to-back CFU Club Championships in 2010 and 2011. The Islanders were runners-up to the USL First Division in 2008. He also took charge of Puerto Rico. national team in 2008.

In 2012, he joined the Carolina RailHawks (now North Carolina FC) in the USL Championship, but couldn’t take the club further than the play-off semi-finals and left the club in 2018 after seven seasons in the league. head.

Owen Coyle

Clubs Managed: Houston Dynamo

The former Bolton and Burnley manager spent just one full season in charge of Houston Dynamo in MLS, finishing a lowly 8th in the Western Conference in 2015.

Coyle’s Dynamo won just 14 out of his 46 MLS games in charge and he left the club in May of the 2016 season.

After a failed attempt to manager again in the UK with Blackburn Rovers and Ross County, Coyle went to the Indian Super League with Jamshedpur FC, where he won the League Winner’s Shield.

Queen’s Park, Scotland’s oldest club, has him at the helm for the 2022 season.

carl robinson

Clubs Managed: Vancouver White Caps

Not to be confused with Oxford coach Karl Robinson, Carl Robinson of the Vancouver Whitecaps spent five seasons with the Canadian club in MLS.

The Wales international has won 77 of his 199 games in charge of the Caps and guided them to three play-off appearances; including two Western Conference semi-finals, the 2015 Canadian Championship and the 2016/17 CONCACAF Champions League semi-finals.

He left the Whitecaps in 2018, five games from the end of the regular season. He moved to Australia, managing the Newcastle Jets then until January 2022 the Western Sydney Wanderers.

Mo Johnston

Clubs managed: New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC

The former Scotland striker, who rose to prominence playing for Celtic and Rangers in the 1980s, managed New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC in MLS.

Johnston won the MLS Cup as a player with the Kansas City Wizards, but was unable to bring that success to his managerial career.

In 2006, he was fired by New York in his first season, having won just five of his 16 games in charge.

He was named head coach of Toronto FC for the inaugural MLS season in 2007. However, after just six wins from 30 games, ‘Trader Mo’, as he was nicknamed due to his transfer dealings, was transferred upstairs to become director of soccer.

He left his position at Toronto in 2010 as the club continued to fail to reach the playoffs.

Paul Mariner

Clubs Managed: Toronto FC

Another international striker who failed to make a difference in Canada. Paul Mariner was named head coach in 2012 after stepping down as director of player development.

The 28 games for England and the Arsenal striker have resulted in just six wins and the Reds have failed to secure a place in the play-off. He was sacked in January 2013, after just seven months on the job.

John Spencer

Clubs Managed: Portland Timbers

After spending four successful years as an assistant manager with back-to-back MLS Cup champions Houston Dynamo, Spencer was given a shot as head coach of the Portland Timbers in 2011.

Unfortunately for the former Chelsea, Colorado and Scotland striker, that was short-lived and he returned to assistant management after less than two seasons in the top job.

The Timbers finished just outside the playoff picture in the club’s first season in MLS. However, Spencer was sacked in July the following season as the team failed to make any progress.

Ray Hudson

Clubs managed: Miami Fusion and DC United

Hudson spent most of his playing career in the North American Football League in the 1970s and 1980s, notably for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

The Gateshead-born midfielder was the TV commentator for Miami Fusion when he was named head coach in the 2000 season.

In 2001, Hudson led the club to the Supporters’ Shield Trophy, Eastern Conference and play-off semi-finals.

Fusion folded in 2002 and Hudson was named DC United’s head coach. The club did not qualify for the 2002 play-offs and were eliminated in the quarter-finals in 2003 by the Chicago Fire. Hudson was replaced by Piotr Nowak in 2004.

Ron Newman

Clubs Managed: Dallas Tornado, Los Angeles Skyhawks, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Miami Americans, San Diego Sockers, Arizona Sandsharks, Kansas City Wizards

For Premier League fans, Ron Newman is probably the least famous name on the list, however, he is the only one inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

After a playing career that included Portsmouth, Gillingham, Crystal Palace and the Atlanta Chiefs, Newman became a Dallas Tornado player/coach in 1969.

He remained in American management for the next 30 years and became MLS’ first-ever manager in 1996 when he became the head coach of the Kansas City Wizards.

He led the Wizards to the West Division title in 1997, but finished last in 1998 and 1999, leading to his dismissal and eventual retirement.