Vanney, 46, was not only the coach, but the technical director, overseeing the club’s greater mission developing talent and a philosophy.
Speculation immediately turned to Vanney taking over the Los Angeles Galaxy, for which he had two stints during a 14-year playing career. (He also played at UCLA.)
The Galaxy is seeking a replacement for Guillermo Barros Schelotto, who was fired late in his second season amid the team’s fourth consecutive subpar campaign.
With a record five MLS Cup titles, the organization and its fan base have high expectations. Furthermore, competing for attention with Los Angeles FC, the Galaxy has got to get the coaching situation right before losing more ground to a local rival that has been among MLS’s best (in regular season play, anyway) since entering the league in 2018.
Vanney’s departure — 55 weeks after Toronto lost to Seattle in the 2019 MLS Cup — creates a coveted opening in the Canadian city.
Meantime, another high-profile club, Atlanta United, has yet to announce a long-term replacement for Frank de Boer, the Dutchman who was fired in July, midway through his second season. Stephen Glass is serving on an interim basis.
Multiple people said the job is probably going to Argentina’s Gabriel Heinze, a move the club hopes will revive the stylish and high-scoring attack featured in 2017-18 under Argentina’s Gerardo “Tata” Martino.
In Seattle, Brian Schmetzer has guided the Sounders to three of the previous four Western Conference championships and won two titles, including last year. But his contract expires this month, and he and the club reportedly haven’t made much progress toward a new deal.
Would the Sounders be willing to let Schmetzer go and hand the reins to assistant Preki Radosavljevic or Gonzalo Pineda? Radosavljevic has had two MLS head coaching jobs and two second-division gigs, while Pineda is projected to become a head coach in the near future.
The other opening is in D.C., where Chad Ashton has held the interim job since Ben Olsen’s firing in October.
Over the past month, United has spoken to about 20 potential candidates. Two people familiar with the search said the list has been whittled to three or four and a decision is expected by mid-December.
The club, several people said, would prefer someone with MLS experience.
Chris Armas, a former New York Red Bulls coach, and Ezra Hendrickson, a Columbus Crew assistant, have been interviewed by the club’s chairmen, Jason Levien and Steve Kaplan. It’s unclear whether anyone else has reached that level of review.
Ashton, Pineda and Philadelphia assistant Pat Noonan were also being considered. At least one notable player, a person close to the process said, is backing Ashton.
Would United make a late play for Vanney? It’s possible. Beyond his coaching success, he played for United in 2007. Realistically, though, he is off to Los Angeles.
Jill Ellis, a two-time World Cup winner with the U.S. women’s national team, had introductory conversations with United officials several weeks ago. She is the first woman to be considered for an MLS head coaching job.
However, Ellis seems to be keeping her options open for a possible return to the international arena ahead of the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
One person familiar with United’s search says the Ellis candidacy “seems dead,” although another did not rule out the team revisiting the possibility.
United has spoken to several candidates overseas, including Javier Aguirre, Clarence Seedorf, David Wagner, Eddie Howe and former U.S. World Cup defender Steve Cherundolo, who is coaching in Germany. The chances of landing Wagner or Howe, former Premier League coaches, were slim from the start.
The Athletic reported United has also had multiple conversations with Manchester City assistant Rodolfo Borrell. A person close to the matter said the Spaniard is in the mix but unlikely to end up in Washington for a variety of unspecified reasons.
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