Friday, September 7, 2018

Handicapper's Guide: Coach of the Year

The first award discussions brought up were pretty cut and dry. That is now over, as we've reached the Coach of the Year race. Even after two of the three leading candidates left for Europe mid-season, there looks to be a wide field in the running - which will be the case for all the season-end prizes left on the list.

The leader: Yeah, Atlanta United coach Tata Martino has a ton of crazy talent at his disposal, but he's also been able to weather major absences and usually gets his tactical adjustments right. Some may point out that the Five Stripes haven't gone on an extended win streak since the beginning of the season, but look closer: they're just painfully (for the rest of the league) consistent. The Peach Pluckers™ have only dropped points in consecutive games once this year.

The main finalist contenders: It should go without saying (and largely kinda has), but Bob Bradley naturally deserves great praise for guiding an expansion LAFC team that's practically played most of the year without a true defensive midfielder to second in the West. Over in Philly, Jim Curtin is finally reaping real rewards from the process. The Union boss has him team winning pretty and routinely solving line-up puzzles.

In another year perhaps: Both Oscar Pareja of current West leaders FC Dallas and Sporting KC's Peter Vermes have overseen clubs that have solved problems to restore/continue winning traditions. Pareja has integrated a handful of cogs and finally may have figured out how to compensate for the forlorn space where Mauro Diaz used to be. Vermes has successfully managed to raise his team's goals for average by 63% (1.17 per game last season to 1.85) by hot hand committee, which is no easy feat.

Late chargers: Should Brian Schmetzer draw serious consideration is Seattle remains rampant until they finish atop the West? Well, gosh I guess. And I also suppose the same goes for if Ben Olsen leads D.C. United back to the playoffs. But I'd hesitate to include either on the shortlist proper at this very moment.


Tomorrow: We spy on the potential Goalkeeper of the Year winners.

- Greg Seltzer

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