One of the big questions of the offseason, is who will be the Wizards coach next season? A few weeks ago after the final home game, Peter Vermes talked about potentially becoming the permanent coach for the Wizards, and Robb Heineman said that he wants to have the head coach in place before the MLS expansion draft, the week after MLS Cup. That means that Heineman, Vermes, and the rest of the Wizards staff in charge of working to find the next Wizards coach are busy trying to make their decision. There are multiple potential coaches in MLS and a few other places. With all the rules in MLS, it's good to have a coach that understands the rules, especially in regards to the roster and player limitations. And while the technical director should help to make sure that the coach understands all these rules, it definitely helps if the coach has a working knowledge. So here's a list of some of the potential candidates that I would be looking at if I were the Wizards.
Peter Vermes - The Wizards technical director and interim coach seems to be the favorite right now to be named head coach. Vermes was 3-6-3 with the interim tag, but the Wizards did appear to play better under Vermes than they had under Onalfo. You do have to wonder if it'd be better to bring in a different eye to coach and help scout talent. It could also be that this will be Vermes last chance, and if the team doesn't succeed when it's all on him, he'll be gone.
Preki - The Wizards legend seems to be the favorite among Wizards fans. He's led Chivas USA to the playoffs all 3 years he has been in charge, but rumor is that he could be out after this year since Chivas holds the option on his contract. While he brings a good MLS coaching record, I do have some concerns. It seems that every year that Preki's been the head coach at Chivas, the team has struggled with injury issues. One year I could blow it off as just a minor injury crisis, but 3 straight years, you have to wonder if something in the way Preki coaches is leading to all these injuries.
Denis Hamlett - Current coach of the Chicago Fire, Hamlett is also out of contract after this season is over. And while he's had success on the field, some Chicago fans have wondered if that success is in spite of Hamlett. Earlier this year there was his publicized half time locker room bust up between him and Bakary Soumare.
Dave Sarachan - Former Chicago Fire head coach and current assistant coach for the LA Galaxy, Sarachan has a good head coaching resume with the Fire as well as being an assistant under Bruce Arena for the US national team. He led Chicago to a US Open Cup title and the Supporter's Shield. The problem in the eyes of Wizards fans is that he (like Curt Onalfo) came up through Arena's system and not many fans are interested in repeating that process.
Colin Clarke - Former head coach of FC Dallas, and current Puerto Rico Islanders coach, Clarke has gotten himself quite a reputation since moving to the USL. Under Clarke, the Islanders have made the last two CONCACAF Champions Leagues, advancing to the semifinals of the 08-09 campaign. The knock on Clarke for Wizards fans, is that it would likely be a return to a more defensive approach similar to Bob Gansler.
John Spencer - Spencer is the current assistant coach under probably my favorite MLS coach, Dominic Kinnear in Houston. Spencer has played in MLS and has been learning from one of the better MLS coaches the past few seasons. The question is whether he'd be ready to leave Houston now. Last year he turned down the Chicago Fire so Spencer may not be interested in a head coaching position at this time.
Octavio Zambrano - Zambrano coached in MLS back in the late 90's and early 00's with LA and New York. He coached one of the higher scoring LA teams in 1998 and a good NY team in 2000. So he knows something about how the league works. He's most recently been in Hungary coaching FC Tatabanya, the club that preseason trialist Ferenc Béres played for. So don't rule out that potential connection.
Will any of these guys be the ones that are coaching the Wizards next season? It's hard to tell for sure, but I'd guess that many of these guys are on the Wizards short list for head coach and I'm sure a surprise or two will be in there as well.