The Montreal Impact always figured to hire a European coach to lead the team as Jesse Marsch’s replacement, but few would have pegged the Impact’s next hire to be a journeyman who hasn’t coached a team in almost four years.
The Impact have hired Swiss manager Marco Schällibaum to be the team’s new head coach, the club announced on Monday morning.
Schällibaum joins Montreal after having spent the past few years as a FIFA coaching instructor in Asia. Prior to that, Schallibaum spent almost 10 years as a coach in the Swiss Super League. Over the course of 13 years, Schallibaum coached eight different teams.
“We are confident that Marco Schällibaum will help us succeed,” said Montreal sporting director Nick De Santis. “He has a lot of experience at a very high level and has acquired a lot of knowledge over the years. Over the different meetings, we felt a real desire on his part to come to MLS and to this club. With the rest of the technical staff, we will put him in the best situation possible in order to help him adapt quickly to the reality of North America. He is also very passionate about the game and is an excellent communicator that speaks a number of languages.”
Early impressions on the hire? Schällibaum bounced around quite a bit in Switzerland, and while having guided some teams to the UEFA Cup shows some level of accomplishment, the fact he coached eight teams during a 13-year span makes you wonder just why he bounced around so much. He also hasn’t coached in
almost four years (make that two years. Missed his stint with Swiss second-division side Lugano).
Then there is the most obvious concern, the fact he has zero familiarity with MLS. The track record of foreign coaches who have come jumped into MLS jobs with no league experience is a terrible one. No head coach has ever won an MLS title without at least some prior experience in the league (Gary Smith is the closest, having led the Colorado Rapids to the 2010 MLS Cup, but he did serve as an assistant coach under Fernando Clavijo before taking over the head coaching job later in the 2008 season).
The Impact do have, at least at the moment, a coaching staff with considerable MLS experience. Former Chicago Fire head coach Denis Hamlett is on the staff, as is former U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder Mike Sorber. It remains to be seen just who on the Impact’s current coaching staff will remain with the club under Schällibaum.
What do you think of the hire? Consider it a bad choice given his journeyman status and lack of familiarity with MLS? Think it’s an innovative move to hire a European coach with his unique resume?