David Moyes sacking from Real Sociedad creates a unique opportunity for several Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs to bring in a high level manager from abroad, one who understands the American game and player more than most. The former Everton boss has spent more time in the United States and around American players than just about any other European-based manager.
While Moyes would be a good hire for just about any club in England or his native Scotland, he’s proven all he can in the United Kingdom. Unless he relishes a relegation fight with a Sunderland-like club or the media scrutiny that would come should he return to a more-aspirational English club, his best bet might be coming over to the United States, a nation which he has developed a unique understand of from a soccer standpoint.
Moyes interest in American players began when he managed Preston North End in the second tier of English football. He attracted Eddie Lewis and Brian McBride to the club. Lewis was bought permanently from Fulham while McBride was brought in on loan from MLS. After Moyes moved to Everton, he again arranged a loan deal for McBride, but finances did not allow him to sign the striker, who eventually moved to Fulham on a permanent basis.
Moyes twice brought in Landon Donovan on loan to Everton and managed Tim Howard for seven seasons. He also brought his team to the United States often for preseason training, playing in friendly matches against MLS and United Soccer League teams on several occasions. In those matches, Moyes was able to experiment with tactics and evaluate players. Coming home from the United States, often times Everton would start Premier League season’s slowly but get stronger as time wore on, showing tactical discipline and incredible levels of fitness that was honed in the hot American summer sun.
The budgetary limitations on Moyes at Everton forced him to develop an extensive scouting network in the Americas. Through this network, Moyes brought several players from Latin America, the types of which MLS now targets in this age of increased league budgets. FC Dallas, who advanced to the MLS conference finals last night, is a clear example of how you can build a club by eschewing big name European-based designated players and mix homegrown talent with superior scouting in Latin America. Moyes also brought two American players in the late 2000’s from USL’s Premier Development League division to Everton, though neither stuck long-term with the club. But Moyes had the willingness to scout lower division US games and implement the infrastructure, including a unique partnership between Everton and Sports Interactive (the maker of Football Manager) to find data on players in more obscure leagues, including USL.