He’s Fresh from Leading Aston Villa to One of the Worst Defeats In their 139-Year History, So Naturally Paul Lambert Is A Rumored Target in the Red Bulls’ Coaching Search

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The New York Red Bulls opened training camp on Monday, and they selected six players in Major League Soccer’s Supplemental Draft on Tuesday, but they still do not have a coach for the 2013 season.

A number of candidates and rumored candidates have come and gone, including former Portugese international Paulo Sousa (who, according to the European press, turned down the job when the club wouldn’t meet his conditions) and ex-Red Bull and U.S. international Claudio Reyna (who was slated to be the top assistant to Sousa, but also reportedly took a pass on the offer), and now, two-and-a-half months after the team dismissed Hans Backe, comes a report from Big Apple Soccer that they are considering an offer to Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert.

Never mind that Lambert’s team lost 8-0 to Chelsea last month, or that they suffered a historically ignominious loss, on aggregate, to fourth-tier Bradford City yesterday to bounce out of the League Cup (or that Lambert has zero familiarity with MLS or U.S. soccer), the 43-year-old Scot is, if the report is to be believed, being considered a viable candidate by New York.

Sigh.

The report also claims that former U.S. international and loose cannon Eric Wynalda is a candidate as well, so, considering the fact that Wynalda was reportedly eliminated from consideration weeks ago, and the fact that this same publication reported in early January that Gary McAllister had been hired by New York (which turned out to be false), the reliability of this information is certainly in question.

Time, of course, will tell, but in the meantime, Red Bulls fans are left wondering, yet again, what in the world is going on with their franchise.

NASL’s Atlanta Silverbacks Hire Eric Wynalda as Interim Coach

He has long pined for a head-coaching job in Major League Soccer, and now former U.S. national team leading scorer Eric Wynalda has the next best thing. The Atlanta Silverbacks of the second-division NASL have named Wynalda interim coach and team advisor.

The decision comes just weeks after Wynalda coached amateur side Cal FC to a surprising berth in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup, leading the team to wins over the third-division professional side Wilmington Hammerheads and the top-flight Portland Timbers along the way.

“I’m absolutely thrilled for this opportunity with the Silverbacks. It was truly one that I didn’t want to pass up,” said Wynalda, 43, and still second on the USMNT’s alltime goals list with 34. “This is a case of an under-performing team, and I’m honored that the club chose me to take on the challenge of turning things around and helping the Silverbacks fulfill their potential on the field.”

“Eric is very well respected and he’s someone who has tremendous knowledge of the game through his career as a player, coach, and TV broadcaster,” said Silverbacks General Manager Andy Smith. “Through our conversations with him, it’s clear how much he studies the game, and we’re convinced he has the leadership qualities to turn this team around.”

There is one unusual hitch in the deal: even though Wynalda will take the reins of the last-place Silverbacks (1-5-8) immediately, he will not relinquish his role as a broadcaster for FOX Soccer.

Keep an eye on how that plays out as the English Premier League resumes in August and the Silverbacks hit the stretch run of the NASL season.

The USOC Third Round is Set, and It Includes Eric Wynalda’s Amateur Side, Cal FC

He has coveted an MLS coaching job for years now, only to be repeatedly denied by league execs presumably wary of his, um, shoot-from-the-hip style.

Now, outspoken former U.S. national team striker Eric Wynalda will get a chance to coach head-to-head against an MLS side—one that just so happens to be owned by an exec, Merritt Paulson, who called Wynalda “a frickin Twitter trainwreck” this past February.

Wynalda’s Cal FC—an amateur team from the USASA, the fifth tier of the U.S. Soccer pyramid—trounced the Wilmington Hammerheads 4-0 last night in the second round of the U.S. Open Cup. They will now face Major League Soccer’s Portland Timbers in the third round.

The Hammerheads are a professional team from Wilmington, North Carolina; they were founded in 1996 and play in the third-tier USL Pro circuit. Cal FC’s Danny Barrera—a former standout at UCSB who also played for the U.S. U-17s and U-18s—scored two goals in the drubbing.

Two other amateur sides made it to the third round, as fourth-tier PDL teams the Michigan Bucks and Ventura County Fusion (not an alt-country band, it turns out) both advanced.

Below are all the matchups (along with a chart of the US Soccer pyramid):

US OPEN CUP THIRD ROUND

Tuesday, May 29
7 pm ET: D.C. United at Richmond Kickers (USL PRO) — Richmond City Stadium; Richmond, Va.

7 pm ET: NE Revolution at Harrisburg City Islanders (USL PRO) — Skyline Sports Complex; Harrisburg, Pa.

7 pm ET: LA Galaxy at Carolina RailHawks (NASL) — WakeMed Soccer Park; Cary, N.C.

7:30 pm ET: Chicago Fire at Michigan Bucks (PDL) — Ultimate Soccer; Pontiac, Mich.

7:30 pm ET: Colorado Rapids at Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL) — Al Lang Stadium; St. Petersburg, Fla.

7:30 pm ET: Dayton Dutch Lions (USL PRO) at Columbus Crew — Columbus Crew Stadium; Columbus, Ohio

7:30 pm ET: New York Red Bulls at Charleston Battery (USL PRO) — Blackbaud Stadium; Charleston, S.C.

7:30 pm ET: Rochester Rhinos (USL PRO) at Philadelphia Union — PPL Park; Chester, Pa.

8:30 pm ET: Charlotte Eagles (USL PRO) at FC Dallas — FC Dallas Stadium; Frisco, Texas

8:30 pm ET: Houston Dynamo at San Antonio Scorpions (NASL) — Heroes Stadium; San Antonio, Texas

8:30 pm ET: Orlando City (USL PRO) at Sporting KC — LIVESTRONG Sporting Park; Kansas City, Kan.

9 pm ET: Minnesota Stars FC (NASL) at Real Salt Lake — Rio Tinto Stadium; Sandy, Utah

10 pm ET: Chivas USA at Ventura County Fusion (PDL) — Ventura College; Ventura, Calif.

10:30 pm ET: Ft. Lauderdale Strikers (NASL) at SJ Earthquakes — Cagan Stadium; Stanford, Calif.

Wednesday, May 30
10 pm ET: Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL) at Seattle Sounders — Starfire Sports Complex; Tukwila, Wash.

10:30 pm ET: Cal FC (USASA) at Portland Timbers — JELD-WEN Field; Portland, Ore.

U.S. Soccer Pyramid:

Tier 1: Major League Soccer (MLS)

Tier 2: North American Soccer League (NASL)

Tier 3: United Soccer Leagues Professional Division (USL Pro)

Tier 4: United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League (PDL) AND National Premier Soccer League (NPSL)

Tier 5: United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) AND U.S. Club Soccer (USCS)

We Just Had a Twitter Dustup with Eric Wynalda

Earlier this afternoon, we came across the following Tweet from National Soccer Hall of Famer and Fox broadcaster Eric Wynalda:

@Wynalda11: I wanna go on the record and announce that I was a HORRIBLE soccer player. Can I now be considered for an MLS coaching position?

Now, Wynalda’s desire to become a head coach has been common knowledge for some time. We interpreted his Tweet as a dig at former MLSers Jay Heaps and Jesse Marsch, both of whom were recently hired as MLS head coaches with little (Marsch) to no (Heaps) previous coaching experience.

Sure, neither Heaps nor Marsch had as distinguished a playing career as Wynalda, who was the alltime leading scorer for the USMNT until 2008, and who scored this goal, which we contend is one of the best, and most important, goals in US Soccer history.

But Waldo’s comment struck us as an unfair shot at the two new hires, who were solid American players. So we Retweeted it with the following hashtag: #sourgrapes?

Apparently the Twitter mic was on, because Wynalda’s response was immediate:

@JohnEM12: sour grapes? What are you an idiot?

We were taken aback at the swiftness and severity of the reply (and the fact that a US Soccer legend had directly asked us if we were “an idiot”), but we pulled together the following response:

@Wynalda11: My wife says yes, yes I am. But can you clarify your tweet?

Then we waited—and waited—for a response. Nothing.

We were just about to forget about it, but then, on Wynalda’s feed, we noticed the following Tweet, directed at someone named LAKingsJunkie:

@LAKingsJunkie: yeah, that came off wrong. We are all idiots when it comes to wives. I meant, of course I am bitter.

Now, you have to keep in mind, Wynalda has more than 5,000 Twitter followers (we have literally dozens), and he’s constantly bantering with them. Could he have posted his second reply to the wrong person?

The more we thought about it, the more the answer seemed to be yes.

The Tweet was not connected to a previous conversation between him and the LAKingsJunkie person (we checked), and look at the reference to “idiots” and “wives”—that couldn’t be a coincidence. It’s gotta be a response to our comment.

And then there’s the final sentence: He’s bitter that guys like Heaps and Marsch are walking into coaching jobs almost immediately after hanging up their boots while he’s had no luck landing one.

So even though he accidentally sent it to the wrong person, we still got his clarification.

Thanks Waldo.

Unless of course our deductive reasoning is faulty here.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

Fifteen Years Ago Today…MLS Kicked Off

On April 6, 1996, the San Jose Clash hosted D.C. United at Spartan Stadium in the very first game in MLS history. More than 31,000 were on hand for the occasion, and they nearly went home disappointed as the game was scoreless for the first 88 minutes.

Cue Mr. Eric Wynalda:

With that, the league was on its way—and the final that year was even more dramatic: Eddie Pope won MLS Cup ’96 for D.C. United with an overtime header in the rain in Foxborough, Mass.

Fifteen years later, and Real Salt Lake is set to play in the CONCACAF Champions League final later this month. We’ve come a long way.

Wynalda for Chivas USA Job?

That old scamp Eric Wynalda is back in the news.

When last we heard from him, in late September, he had just accepted a job as “president of international operations” for Murcielagos, a third-division Mexican club.

Now, he’s touting himself as a legit candidate for the vacant head coaching position of Major League Soccer’s Chivas USA. And not just himself: Wynalda tells Scott French of ESPN Los Angeles that if hired, he will bring a staff that includes legendary Mexican defenders Claudio Suarez and Ramon Ramirez as his assistants.

Apparently, the unlikely trio of former bitter rivals has been gathering weekly in Southern California (where they all live) to talk soccer:

“It’s true, we’re working together. Honestly, it would be a flat-out honor to work with these guys. We’re available, we want to do this.

“We’re very interested in getting involved. When [Ramon, Claudio and I] discuss [the possibility], we just want the opportunity to pass on what we know, what we’ve gained [from our experiences].”

They have reportedly already had serious talks about the position with Chivas USA brass.

Other candidates for the job include former Goats midfielder and current U.S. national team assistant Jesse Marsch, and (underrated!) former U.S. and LA Galaxy centerback Robin Fraser, who is currently on Jason Kreis’s staff at Real Salt Lake.

A decision is expected this week.

Wynalda Lands Front-Office Job! … In Mexico … In Third Division

Former U.S. national team striker and noted shrinking violet Eric Wynalda has been hired by Mexican third-division club Murcielagos as its “president of international operations.”

Wynalda told Soccer America that his new role will involve scouting young players for the club’s developmental program, seeking player exchange programs and developing marketing and sponsorship opportunities.

We’ve always appreciated Wynalda’s immense contributions to U.S. Soccer—he scored the first goal in MLS history, and he was the national team’s alltime leading scorer until 2008—but this one is a puzzler.

As he told SA:

“It’s kind of strange that I would end up in Mexico, but I want to coach. If somebody down there thinks that you can contribute, that’s where you end up. Right now there’s just not a place for me in U.S. Soccer or in MLS.”

Well, okay, sure, there may not be a place for you at the top level of Stateside soccer, but why not start small here—why not try for a third-division-type gig in the U.S.?

He continues:

“I found it fascinating that there is so much American-Mexican talent in Mexico, players we didn’t know about.”

Wait, what? There’s “American-Mexican talent,” in Mexico, that we don’t know about?

So, if Jose Torres, for example, is a Mexican-American, who qualifies as an American-Mexican? And is this is the start of the Wynalda pipeline of previously untapped talent flowing back to the USMNT?

Ah, forget it: It’s late on a Tuesday; no time to try to make sense of this one.

But we will note that Murcielagos means “bats”—as in batty, or bats*** insane.