High mountains have been conquered in luring biggie-big names into Major League Soccer. David Beckham was foremost, of course, but Andrea Pirlo, Didier Drogba, Kaka and quite a few others aren’t exactly $1.50 hamburger, either.
But we live in a day when players aren’t the only superstars of the global game; a few managers have arrived into this exalted place, this lighted stage of tactical enlightenment and leadership savvy.
It’s a relatively short list, depending on where you draw your line. Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, Rafa Benitez, Jose Mourinho are the latest “daily specials,” so to speak. From there, depending on the week’s deliveries, you might include Roberto Mancini, Fabio Capello, Louis van Gaal, Arsene Wenger and perhaps a couple of others. Diego Simeone seems like he’s in the queue, for sure, and Sir Alex Ferguson was certainly there before he retired to write books and establish a permanent, lurking shadow over Old Trafford.
We could, perhaps, throw a few more names out there, those who have clawed their way into higher managerial recognition through national team acclaim: Marcelo Bielsa, Joachim Löw and, well, name the Mexican national team manager of the month. Either way, you get the idea.
So we nerds of the domestic game, those who spend their time watching professional clubs in North America and debating implications of each national team roster, now pose this question:
When will one of these managerial superstars find their way into Major League Soccer?
These guys are liberally swapped among the big boys of Bundesliga, EPL, Serie A, La Liga and PSG. One day, surely, one will break ranks and flee West to MLS. But which one? And when?
And once he gets here … will it be his Waterloo? That is, will he even succeed? Carlos Alberto Parreira was still pretty fresh off a World Cup win, but he flopped badly for the MetroStars back in 1997. He is probably the biggest coaching ship to land on MLS shores.
There is an obvious impediment to a Klopp, a Pep or – Oh, please make it so one day! – a Mourinho hitching his horse to an MLS wagon: the salary, of course. Being merely “pretty good” in the manager’s seat earns you about $3 million a year in the Premier League. That’s what Mauricio Pochettino gets now for his work at White Hart Lane, and he’ll probably deserve a raise if Tottenham retains its place in the EPL table.