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Wait a minute, let’s review Joey Saputo’s checklist of MLS coaching requirements one more time

Jan 8, 2013, 2:44 PM EDT

Montreal Impact owner Joey Saputo introduces the club's first designated player Marco Di Vaio in Montreal

Lest Toronto FC hog up all the snark and concern allocated to pro soccer in Canada today, let’s circle back to yesterday’s managerial hire at Montreal.

TSN’s Luke Wileman takes a good, balanced look at Montreal’s choice, Marco Schallibaum. That move was announced yesterday, as the longtime Swiss player and coach crosses continents to tackle a completely new challenge.

Wileman points out in his piece that Montreal president Joey Saputo wanted more of a teacher, and that Schallibaum fits the bill. And the club president wanted a coach who had mad language skills. So, check that box, too.

All of which is well and good, because those are certainly desirable qualities.

But as Wileman ticked off the general list of Saputo requirements, one was missing: MLS experience!

Does Saputo (pictured, left) have so little respect for his own league that some kind of working knowledge deserves “afterthought” status?

Does he not think that some degree of education on the special travel challenges (which almost every new player or manager mentions after coming aboard MLS) would be nice to have? Or that the unique player acquisition mechanisms are worth knowing? Or that some cultural knowledge of the American professional athlete would help in the psychology of it all?

The ultimate validation of Saputo’s choice will be in the win-loss record, I suppose. But this does raise alarm bells for me, at least.

  1. solador78 - Jan 8, 2013 at 3:27 PM

    The Impact believe that the MLS game is unrefined and involves too much running around, which is why they decided to make this change in the first place.

    If they valued MLS coaching experience over tactical ability, Marsch would still be in charge.

    • Steve Davis - Jan 8, 2013 at 4:04 PM

      And that’s fair enough. I don’t really disagree with that assessment of MLS. But what if a team is sitting with two or three wins midway through the season? How will they feel about the laudable desire to play refined soccer then? At some point, MLS is what it is … and they have to find a way to function within it (hopefully while trying to guide it a better direction).

      • solador78 - Jan 8, 2013 at 4:31 PM

        Physical defenders like Rivas, Ferrari and Camarra might be the perfect counter force against savage MLS teams like San Jose, assuming they can stay healthy and off suspension. It’s up front where the Impact are looking to be more clever. The biggest problem with the team last year was not any one thing, but rather their inability to have everything working together at the same time. By taking a more European approach, they’re hoping to overcome the “recreational” attitude that surrounds soccer on this continent.

  2. charliej11 - Jan 8, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    Not already playing for an English team ? Check.

    • Steve Davis - Jan 8, 2013 at 4:05 PM

      Hee-hee. Good one

  3. drewvt6 - Jan 8, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    Playing above the “recreational” attitude that surrounds football on all continents and in all leagues outside of the Big4 requires skills usually only found inside the Big4 leagues with the exception of Brazil and Argentina. Paying for that skill set for an entire 25-30 man roster requires money beyond what is sustainable on this continent at this time.

  4. marekzyskowski - Jan 8, 2013 at 8:19 PM

    This could be a very good move. The coach will not be entirely alone so I don’t think MLS experience is really that important.
    He will probably bring something new to the team. He speaks French and that will be a big plus when working with the media in Montreal. The first season was great and the team can build on that with the new coach.

  5. mvktr2 - Jan 9, 2013 at 8:13 AM

    Time after time after time after time (you get the idea) MLS experience or rather a lack there of has proven to be the death nail in the coffin of foreign coaches. It’s important, VERY, and there is a ton of evidence in that direction.

    However count me in the camp that a foreign coach can work all the way to a championship level in MLS. The formula just hasn’t been figured out… yet. The most important thing is a willingness from a foreign coach to learn, immerse, and dismiss his own suppositions. The next most important element I would guess to be having a MLS savvy right hand man and MLS savvy FO.

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