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Former D.C. United captain Ryan Nelsen apparently returning to MLS – but as a coach

Jan 4, 2013, 9:36 AM EDT

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I have to admit, I’ve long hoped that Ryan Nelsen would rejoin MLS.

He could be the perfect partner, I believed, for a mentoring role, presiding with all that knowledge and professionalism alongside some talented young center back. Imagine where Tim Ream might be today, for instance, if the New Zealand international could have been alongside the emerging U.S. international back in 2011 with the Red Bulls.

Or how about partnering with Matt Besler at Sporting Kansas City, or George John at FC Dallas?

Or even in Los Angeles, where Omar Gonzalez benefitted so greatly from Gregg Berhalter’s tutelage back in 2009?

Nelsen, now 35, was a standout on the D.C. United teams of the early 2000s, including the 2004 MLS Cup championship sides. He captained that team, in fact.

Well it appears Nelsen (pictured, in center) will re-join MLS – only not in the capacity I (and probably everyone else) had imagined.

Reports out of England this morning say Nelsen is set to leave Queens Park Rangers this month to accept a coaching position in MLS.

If it’s a head coaching position, it has to be New York or Montreal.

(MORE: Montreal signs a player, but really needs a coach)

More likely, however, is that Nelsen would begin his coaching days as an assistant, perhaps to Paul Mariner at Toronto. There, he could be groomed as an eventual replacement, allowing Mariner to return to the front office position he held prior to replacing failed Dutch coach Aron Winter.

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