Elite resume sets Sánchez apart
Opinions on whom and what would make a good MLS coach vary as much as
Sadly (or not), coaching candidates typically possess only two or three of these criteria. Hiring a coach in MLS follows the lines of that old business idiom: "Work can be done cheap, fast or good: Pick two."
But today, all of a sudden, there is someone out there who fits the mold to a T. If I were D.C.'s
"Hugol" is on the market again after Spanish side Almería sacked him over the weekend. And the various MLS GMs looking for coaches would be fools if they didn't at least talk to him.
It starts with name recognition. Commentators are always saying MLS needs to attract more marquee names. Sánchez may not be as bold-faced as a
Hugol famously won five
Ten years later, Sánchez spent the 1996 season with the newly minted Dallas Burn. (Aside: Anyone else miss Islamico?) Hugol and the Big D weren't a match made in
And, for what it's worth, that inaugural season still stands as the club's most successful at the gate, with an average attendance of more than 16,000. Sánchez's presence certainly had something to do with those numbers, and it points to his obvious marketing appeal: immediate identification with Mexican fans. The greatest
During this year's playoffs, I stood outside Toyota Park after the Fire had dispatched the New England Revolution. The fans in the parking lot were in good spirits, of course, freely sharing their beer and tequila with an interloping journalist. When asked why they were Fire fans, they all gave the same reason: Blanco. Therefore, whoever takes the reins in Chicago better be able to relate to Blanco. Sánchez already does.
It was Sánchez who, after taking charge of Mexico in '06, brought Blanco back into the team. His predecessor,
With Blanco back in the side, Sánchez's Mexico reached the final of the '07 CONCACAF Gold Cup and would have won it were it not for a piece of brilliance from
But Sánchez's Mexico reign is shot through with controversy. Many say that Sánchez lacked the tactical nous required at the highest level and that the side had no cohesion. The biggest criticism, however, has nothing to do with soccer. His decision to replace Mexico's traditional green jersey with a white one because, he said, the green jerseys blended in with the green grass of the field, unleashed an astounding torrent of venom. Honestly, Sánchez wouldn't have been more excoriated if he'd desecrated a statue of
Hiring Sánchez would be risky. His critics are legion and loud, and the question remains: Can he coach? In today's "What have you done for me lately?" era, his 363-day stint at Almería and his Tri (mis)adventure will convince some that the answer is no. But that ignores his successful five-year run in charge of Mexico City giants UNAM Pumas. After building the side for a few seasons, in'004, he led Pumas to back-to-back league titles. When given time -- and humility -- the 51-year-old obviously has the potential to do good things.
So what would those fans outside Toyota Park think of the hiring of Sánchez? I can only think they would raise their glasses of tequila and shout, "