As the season putters toward the playoffs, a handful of coach of the year candidates are beginning to separate from the league’s cluster. These typically run the gamut from coaches turning big talent into points to molding former also-rans into legitimate MLS Cup contenders. I don’t necessarily buy that one is intrinsically more impressive than the other. That Mike Petke has done what he’s done in New York, for instance, is not diminished by the team’s payroll. Look at his predecessors and the praise seems baked into the pie.
And while his tenure is short, I want to acknowledge what Brian Bliss is doing in Columbus.
Bliss’ rap sheet is the shortest of any coach here, which means he’ll have a difficult time dislodging other coaches from higher places. So perhaps Bliss won’t win the honor, but he at least deserves praise for his brief month-long stint in the manager’s chair in Columbus. The Crew had lost seven of 11 when Robert Warzycha was let go at the start of September, and they were drowning and left for dead in the playoff race. Since then, Columbus has won four of five, including an entertaining 4-2 win over FCD over the weekend that inched the Crew closer to the playoffs. The Crew are playing vibrant attacking soccer (11 goals in those four wins), and if their year stretches into the postseason, there might not have been a more dramatic shift in the league all year. And that’s down to Bliss.
Without further ado, five of the top MLS coach of the year candidates.