MLS Grapevine: Sampson favorite to coach Chivas USA, MLS targets U-17 stars and more

Steve Sampson (

Photo by

On the eve of what could be the Los Angeles Galaxy's first MLS Cup title since 2005, the man who led LA to its last championship looks ready to return to MLS.

Steve Sampson is on the verge of being hired by Chivas USA as head coach, sources have told SBI. Sampson would replace Preki, who took over as Toronto FC head coach.

While Sampson is the favorite to be hired, sources have told SBI that Chivas USA is still conducting interviews with several coaches with MLS experience. A final decision is expected in the next week or two.

Sampson last coached in MLS in 2006, when he was fired as Galaxy head coach just a half season after guiding the team to an MLS Cup title. Sampson has strong ties to Chivas USA management, which includes the team's vice-president of soccer operations, Stephen Hamilton. It was Hamilton's older brother, the late Doug Hamilton, who hired Sampson as Galaxy head coach. Sampson was fired by LA just three months after the death of Doug Hamilton, who was president and general manager of the Galaxy at the time of his passing.

Sampson coached the U.S. national team during its awful 1998 World Cup appearance, but also remains the only U.S. head coach to earn a result in Mexico (a draw in 1997). His outgoing personality and ability to speak fluent Spanish would make him a very different kind of coach than Chivas USA had during the past three years in Preki.

Sampson's potential hiring is just one of the tidbits to surface during MLS Cup weekend in Seattle. Here are some more notes involving the Columbus Crew, MLS Draft targets and the latest on the MLS coaching carousel:

Crew shakeup looming

The Columbus Crew stands poised two lose two of its most important players, but those imminent losses aren't being driven by the salary cap.

2008 MLS MVP Guillermo Barros Schelotto and U.S. national team midfielder Robbie Rogers are highly unlikely to return to Columbus, and sources tell SBI that Crew head coach Robert Warzycha had a major falling out with both players, sparking the process that will likely lead to both their departures.

Warzycha endured serious criticism for his decisions not to play Schelotto in the Crew's first-round playoff opener against Real Salt Lake, and his decision to bench Robbie Rogers in game two of the RSL series. Columbus lost both matches.

Reports have blamed Schelotto's impending move out of Columbus on his salary demands, and the Crew's reluctance to keep him as a Designated Player, but that is looking more and more like the story Columbus is shaping to soften the back-lash the Crew is likely to face for letting Schelotto go. Don't be surprised to see Schelotto traded and play for less than Designated Player money with his new club.

As for Rogers, he is a free agent who could make a move to Europe, but sources tell SBI that Rogers is open to staying in MLS, just not with the Crew. A reunion with Philadelphia head coach Peter Nowak, who coached Rogers on the Olympic and national team, is a possibility.

Coaching Carousel Update

While Sampson looks set to take over at Chivas USA, two remaining coaching opening and a potential opening remain mysteries.

New York and D.C. United are still working toward hiring coaches and based on the information making the rounds, it is looking less like Richie Williams will be hired by the Red Bulls. He could be retained as an assistant coach, but with D.C. United showing serious interest in Williams as a head coach, we could see a Richie Williams-Ben Olsen coaching staff leading D.C. into the new decade.

Who will the Red Bulls turn to then? Erik Soler has already been chosen as the team's general manager (though it hasn't been formally announced yet) and it is anybody's guess what Soler will want in a head coach. Former Wizards head coach Curt Onalfo was in the mix for Soler's job and is available. Former Bayern Munich, Chivas USA and LA assistant coach Martin Vasquez could be in the mix as well, though there are concerns about Vasquez's current knowledge of MLS. That deficiency could have cost him the Chivas USA job, but New York may not be as picky (the Re Bulls have already shown that knowledge of MLS isn't a pre-requisite for employment). At this point I would put money on the Red Bulls hiring someone with international name recognition rather than one of the handful of available coaches who actually has experience in MLS.

One coach who is looking more and more like he will be available is current Fire hea coach Denis Hamlett. Fire owner Andrew Hauptman is ready to go in another direction, and his strained (more like non-existent) relationship with Hamlett has set the stage for a departure after two seasons in charge. Don't be surprised to see former D.C. United head coach Tom Soehn resurface in Chicago. He played for the Fire on the 1998 MLS Cup-winning team, and was teammates with current Chicago technical director Frank Klopas. Soehn has also been linked to a move to join Bob Bradley's staff on the U.S. national team.

MLS pushing to sign U.S. Under-17 stars

Major League Soccer has made significant offers to U.S. Under-17 national team stars Jack McInerney and Luis Giland both are close to signing and could be a part of the 2010 MLS Draft if they do sign.

McInerney and Gil are two of the most highly-coveted youth players in the U.S. youth system, and both have been the subject of interest from top European clubs.

If McInerney and Gil do sign, they would join U.S. Under-20 midfielder Dilly Duka as young prospects available in a 2010 MLS Draft expected to be a strong one (though probably not as strong as the 2009 draft.


That's all for now. What do you think of these developments? Surprised to see Sampson landing with Chivas USA? Shocked to think that the Crew will lose Schelotto and Rogers? Praying the Red Bulls get a clue and hire a head coach with MLS experience?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in Major League Soccer, MLS- Chicago Fire, MLS- Chivas USA, MLS- Columbus Crew, MLS- D.C. United. Bookmark the permalink.

62 Responses to MLS Grapevine: Sampson favorite to coach Chivas USA, MLS targets U-17 stars and more

  1. Kris says:

    If Gil can train with a team like Arsenal or whatnot, then that’s cool, but McInerny would be better off here than with Berlin.

  2. dena says:

    Should’ve known we weren’t going to retain Richie.

  3. Judging Amy says:

    Sampson’s time at World Cup ’98 is his most memorable legacy. I hope he can redeem it. Wow. Why are NYRB letting Williams get away? Oh well. Good for DC.

  4. Joe B says:

    Would Robbie Rogers get Euro minutes in any leagues other than the Scandanavian ones these days? Maybe a lower tier Holland club?

    Got to figure if he wants to make WC Squad he shoud stay in MLS .. his chances of playing consistently in europe spring 2010 have to be far less than maintaining status quo in mls

  5. Jon E says:

    As an Galaxy fan, I wholeheartedly support Chivas’ decision to hire Steve Sampson. I’m disappointed the Goats couldn’t snag Juan Carlos Osorio, but I still like this move.

  6. Austin says:

    the 2009 draft was good ives, but i wouldnt say it is clearly going to be better than 2010

    if dilly duka, ike opara, luis gil, and mcinerney are in it then it will be an unbelievable draft

  7. gmonsoon43 says:

    What is the “standard” rookie MLS contract? I know there was some talk about McInerny and Gil not being able to go to Europe until they were 18. If that is the case it’s fine to join MLS for a season or so, they just need to make sure they are out of contract when they turn 18.

  8. Murphy says:

    Ives–why Sampson? I always thought of him as a joke. Isn’t there other qualified candidates? Or is this just nepotism because of his connections at Chivas USA?

  9. d1ddy says:

    You know better than to expect the MLS to allow players to make it easy to transfer to Europe.

    Are McInerny and Gil going to be Generation Adidas or developmental or what? I can’t imagine they would be able to step right in and contribute on many teams (probably why Duka wants to go the RBNY). Plus, I don’t know if I would draft a young prospect who’s plan is to develop for a year or two and then bail for Europe the first chance he gets. Then again, my only experience with young players is Freddy Adu, and he only tried when he played in front of an international audience.

  10. Chivas USA is dumpster diving for a coach! It’s fun to watch all these MLS teams jump at mediocre coaches!

  11. alex says:

    mls doesn’t stop players from transferring its these other leagues that try to low ball mls, and if these guys are good enough they will be in europe gil is 15 he could do a 4 year GA contract and be 19, I mean its a win win for both. prime example look at JOZY he played for the red bulls gets sold on a large transfer and now has started at hull, how many of the hull academy players or reserve players are seeing first team minutes right now.

  12. green says:

    Wondering the same. The recycling of coaches in the US is baffling to me.

  13. Sgc says:

    Biggest issue with MLS for them is that they are both kind of small, and this league hasn’t been all that kind to small players. Still, they’re very skilled (Gil I think might be the one star from that U17 team, but I think Jack Mac is also better than he showed there), and they could come up with worse ideas.

  14. Sgc says:

    There really is no standard. A guy who is desperate like Giorgio Chirgadze can get signed at a developmental $20k deal, or a guy with some options like Maurice Edu had signed for $150k. It all depends on how you’re rated and what other options you have.

  15. Sonicdeathmonkey says:

    IMO, its a bit troubling that MLS teams are reverting back to the “good ol’ boy” system of hiring head coaches. I get it that clubs want guys with knowledge of how MLS works, but with Paul Mariner leaving the league without a head coaching shot, and quality assistants like Spencer out there, its still a bit shocking that somebody actually thinks Steve Sampson as their head coach would be a good idea. Heck, I’m not a Galaxy fan, but I think that Cobi Jones could make a good head coach some day. Although, I’m pretty sure he would never, EVER consider taking the ChivasUSA job. 😉

  16. Yossarian says:

    both McInerny and Gil need to go to Europe if they are to have any chance of developing into top players. I was not impressed with McInerny’s skillset. He needs a lot of polish.

  17. SeattleStan says:

    Ha! Oh man, Its sad to kick someone while they’re down, but who doesn’t enjoy a good JCO joke? No one I tell you, no one!

  18. Pete says:

    I would hate to see Hamlett leave but if he does, I would love to see Tom Soehn come back to Chicago. His style fits the Fire and knows how to win here. Can he take them to the next level? I do beieve he can.

  19. M says:

    NOOOO, Gil and McInerney should go to Europe. No MLS club is going to develop them properly. Plus the physical nature of the league will hurt Gil’s creativity.

  20. vasco says:

    is it april 1st.

    steve sampson as a head coach, there has to be an april fools joke in there somewhere.

    alas, at least we don’t have to worry about chivas anymore, as a threat for the playoffs.

    Red Bulls are the only team i know that is so willin to shoot themselves in the foot.

  21. dunbar says:

    Even if gil and jack mac dont play at a major european club, as long as they get the skill set and new mentality like kenny cooper at manchester United, they wil be will be better off by the time they are 21 -22. I dont think cooper would have been so productive in the mls if it was not for manchester united.

  22. CrispyST3 says:

    I think if Madrid is looking to sign Gil and Berlin Jack, then they should go………

    ofcourse its gna take time for both to get minutes at either team, but think about it…..

    sitting on the bench at an MLS club, or climbing the ranks at Madrid/berlin til you finally get your spot…..i think i’d take a chance at Madrid/berlin, because even if they don’t make the final cut when they’re 21/22, they’ll have that experience they’ll never have gotten if they stayed in MLS

  23. Bob Bradley says:

    I totally disagree. Those guys will not play at all in Europe and would be better off here for a few years. What has Europe done for Adu or Altadore? Given them splinters in their asses is all.

    I watched a couple of the U17 games and Mclnerny was the only one that caught my eye. Good passer, nice touch

  24. Beckster says:

    The timing of the Ben Olsen retirement announcement seems to support Ive’s Richie Williams/Ben Olsen coaching combo in DC. I’m good with that. Let the Red Bulls try another international guy…go for it!

  25. steve says:

    Gil and McInerney in MLS… should work out well?? pfft…go train and earn your way up…aka Rossi… without changing nationality of course.

  26. ec says:

    I’m so bummed over the mess that Warzycha made out of the Crew. He inherited the most dynamic and likable team in the league, and in less than a year 2 of his best 3 players want out. I’m baffled why they’d keep him and send their stars packing, who does management think fans are paying to see?

    Besides DC, I haven’t heard a single potential coaching hire that sounds intelligent. The only consolation for me is that all the other major US sports are just as bad, so you can’t say it’s MLS-specific.

    But speaking of DC, PLEASE keep Soehn off of the National Team staff. He had bad luck with injuries, but underachieved consistently with a lot of talent and resources.

  27. Freddy says:

    Maybe they can pull a Donovan; sign with a European team but go to MLS until they are eligible to play.

  28. dabull says:

    So is this Soehn to Chicago rumor based on sources close to the team/Soehn or something you just think should happen, like your earlier Preki to Chicago rumor?

  29. Silent Fan says:

    Signing these U-17’s is not the best way to grow this league. Why not take the 80-100K these Generation adidas kids make per year and spend that on proven young talent like Stuart Holden who makes only 34k? You’re telling me these kids will give a team more than someone like Holden?

  30. matt dillon says:

    soehn, who failed to get dc united to the playoffs, preferred over Hamlett, who made two conference finals in two season? why? I think little rich boy Andy Hauptmann knows f all about soccer.

  31. Jerome says:

    MLS will not be big until the US wins the world Cup. So i say let the best U-17 prospects go to Europe and develop for US success and the rest of talented U-17’s like Victor Chavez sign with MLS. If MLS convinces Luis Gil, than shame on them.

  32. dabull says:

    What?!? Shame on MLS for trying to sign the best talent for the league?? They would be stupid to not try to advance the talent level in the league!! I congratulate them for aggressively going after the top US talent.

  33. DJ says:

    You mean Hamlett, who crapped out in two conference finals, never won an Open Cup, crapped out in the SuperLiga final, got into a physical altercation with Bakary Soumare and chased him out of Chicago..,I coul go on, but why bother?

  34. Ken says:

    I think he can make a mid table team in the Eredivisie.

  35. gerald says:

    Very good point, going to Europe is not always the best scenrio

  36. JM says:

    Wouldn’t be shocked to see GBS as Landon Donovan’s replacement at LA Galaxy.

  37. Willardo DuPont says:

    Wow. Great updates. That’s almost too much at one time (kidding). Now I’m anxious for the rest of the story…

  38. C-note says:

    Whatever comes to pass, I enjoy contemplating the possibilities.
    It’s like a draft for coaches.
    If GBS is finished with Crew management, he is welcome to come play next to BMB in chi-town. But I think Sigi in Seattle would have a better chance at landing him. There’s no such thing as too much depth, as we are about to see all next season in Chicago.

  39. SrySnffy says:

    Luis Gill would fit perfectly at RSL. They try to play attractive, passing on the floor.

  40. Supsam says:

    yea sure, and im positive moving to Europe at such a young age really really really helped Donovan become the talented player he is now (SARCASM)

    stop the european myth that developing there is always the best option.

  41. Aaron says:


    All the locale reports in crewville say that Rogers is still under contract for another year, where are you getting your info? Why the difference in stories?

    What the heck is Chivas thinking wanting sampson? Are they thinking about a cup in 2 years, be the worse team next year and then win as it looks like what will happen the last couple years…

  42. Russ says:

    Yeah – Shawn Mitchell said that Rogers has option years left on his contract this week on Crew Xtra (local TV show), and that he doesn’t know where the reports that his contract is up are coming from…

  43. wut says:

    So Sampson is on the verge of being hired, but he’s one of many candidates still being interviewed? Makes no sense.

  44. Joamiq says:

    Man, I would love for the Red Bulls to make a run at Schelotto and Rogers. That would be fantastic. Of course, we don’t even have a coach yet, so that’s not going to happen. And I can’t believe they’re going to not keep Williams and go Euro. We have no reason to think the next coach will be anything but a disaster.

  45. Jason says:

    You obviously have no idea how GA contracts work, You also don’t get that Holden remained on a low contract so that he would be free to jump to Europe without having to worry about being held for ransom by MLS.

  46. Amit says:

    They will probably instead go for oft injured, ugly, and downright talentless argentine midfielder Pu(n)to Pietravallo, brother of former Red Bull Juan Pietravallo who transferred to Sporting Olhanense of the Portugese first division for $50 and the price of a cut and shampoo at Supercuts.In other developments, the Red Bulls are looking to resecure the services of Khano Smith, who is currently tearing up the bench in English League 2 play, uprooting it from the ground and hacking it into little pieces of firewood in order to keep the lockeroom warm.

  47. ELAC says:

    Sampson is a bad choice. If hired, it would be the beginning of the end for Chivas USA.
    Stephen Hamilton is a nimrod. He’s living off his brother’s glory.
    Sampson won with Sigi’s roster. Sure Sampson speaks Spanish, but that’s not enough to coach Chivas USA.

    Start the Galaxy backlash…

  48. ELAC says:

    Pleas tell me this is a joke.

  49. DadRyan says:

    Here, here!

  50. Trent says:

    Jorge Vergara got a first hand look at what a disaster Sampson was as the National Team Coach of Costa Rica, i cant believe there wouldnt be some huge repercussions from the fan base if Sampson gets hired. I woulnt put that buffoon in charge of a flea circus. Why are these same retreads getting the oppurtunity to keep on coaching in MLS, arent there any top notch young assistants or a few quality NCAA coaches that could fill the void? Sampson and Soehn= ABSOLUTE GARBAGE!

  51. Tomr143 says:

    Rogers still has a year or two on his contract. But Ives has it right on the problems the core players are having with the Crew coaching staff. Galaxy made a big mistake with Guillit who totally killed the teams energy. Crew is now going down a bad path.

    Robbie Rigers twitter indicates he is drving across country. Why would any player take his car across country unless something is up and there is no intent to return unless things change? link to

  52. mike says:

    i say yes for gil and the u-17s ONLY if theres a reserve league.

  53. midwest says:

    something’s seriously askew in crewland. to allow gbs, quite possibly to most exciting player in the league, to go is ridiculous. i can’t imagine sigi letting something like this happen.

    was it a battle of egos?

  54. Carl says:

    GO RSL!

  55. Will says:

    Chivas’s would do well to get Martin Vasquez, seems like he’s both player’s and fan’s first choice. If not understanding the working’s of MLS is his short coming. Could somebody please explain what’s so hard to understand about the MLS and he’s spent time in the MLS ?

  56. Goose says:

    Re: Soehn

    As a head coach, yes, but as an assistant he had nothing but success. Some guys just aren’t cut out for the top job but are still very good coaches (coach as opposed to a manager).

  57. aristotle says:

    Steve Sampson? That’s pretty funny. You often hear a team parting with their head coach amicably saying something like: “We’ve decided to take the team in a different direction.” I guess in the case of Chivas that direction is down! It’s going to be easy to dislike and laugh at Chivas now. They will have no one else to blame except themselves. I keep thinking about that obnoxious statement made by the Chivas owner when he bought Chivas about how successful Chivas was going to be in MLS. I think they need a new owner.

  58. Rory says:

    Jorge Flores carved out a decent role for him on Chivas and I think both McInerny and Gil could easily play as much as him. Hopefully they will be on a team in the Champions league or superliga where they’d get more playing time.

  59. Rory says:

    Charlie Davies developed nicely in a Scandanavian team, didn’t he? Bradley developed well in a mid-table Eredivisie team. I’d say he should go for it.

  60. Rory says:

    Forget U-17, I wanna know where OWNBY is going to play next year! That kid is GREEEEEEAAAAATTTT!

  61. art says:

    surprised we haven’t seen a raft of 3-6-1 jokes with re: Sampson. Kinds today…:)