Major League Soccer has been doing a good job attracting international players to the growing American league. Since David Beckham joined the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007 other big names that have plied their skills stateside include Thierry Henry, Kaka, Steven Gerrard, David Villa and Andrea Pirlo.
This trend of international talent joining Major League Soccer has been felt in the management ranks as well. Current Finland head coach Hans Backe was one of the first European’s to make the move to MLS. The Swede brought his extensive playing and coaching background to the New York Red Bulls serving as the club’s manager from 2010-2012.
Then there’s former Liverpool defender Steve Nicol. Nicol managed the New England Revolution from 2002-2011 before joining ESPN as an analyst.
New New York City Football Club head coach Patrick Vieira is the latest to bring his achievements overseas to MLS. Vieira comes to the league following an illustrious and successful professional career that included three Premier League titles with Arsenal, three Serie A championships with Inter Milan as well as a World Cup victory and the European Championship as a member of the French national team.
Vieira is a winner. After accomplishing so much in European and World soccer, his new stint as manager of NYCFC may be his toughest one yet. The new franchise is beginning its second season in MLS and has yet to become a winning team.
Despite the backing of owner Sheikh Mansour and parent club Manchester City, NYCFC has found it tough going so far. Even with designated players such as Villa, Frank Lampard and Pirlo the team has yet to find a winning formula. In the club’s inaugural season the team missed the playoffs and finished with a losing record of 10 wins, 17 losses and seven draws. It was during this past off season, that Vieira was brought in to replace original manager Jason Kreis. While the season is young, NYCFC are off to a rough start with just one win in seven matches.
In an interview with Pablo Maurer of MLSsoccer.com, Vieira addressed the challenges of coaching in MLS as opposed to England and the other European leagues
“I just think that coaching in the MLS is of course harder than in Europe because of the salary cap and the roster, and the way you have to make things balanced in the squad, making sure you have the players you need … In Europe, if you want a player, you just go out and buy them. Here, you can’t do it unless you have all these certain criteria. It is really interesting, really fascinating.”
When asked about his decision to move stateside, Vieira stated “the fact is that I’m coming here and am really happy here because I’m really fascinated with this project. That’s the reason why I signed the three-year contract here.”
Time will tell if Vieira is the right match for NYCFC. However, there’s no doubt that he brings a history of winning championships and trophies that should prove beneficial to the players and coaching staff at NYCFC.