Heading into his third season in charge of the Colorado Rapids, Pablo Mastroeni was on the hot seat. For each of the past two seasons, the Rapids had looked uninspired in the attack, and had finished well below the playoff line in the Western Conference.
The 2016 season has brought a revitalized Rapids team, and Mastroni deserves credit for leading a team that currently sits second in the Western Conference.
Mastroeni’s tenure has been defined by defense, and 2016 has proven no different. The Rapids have surrendered just 13 goals in 18 games, while maintaining a goal differential of +8.
On paper, the Rapids are led by U.S. Men’s National Team stars Jermaine Jones and Tim Howard, but the duo have combined to play just 10 matches this season. While Jones has proven an unquestioned leader during his time on the field, young players like Axel Sjoberg and Mekeil Williams have made the leap under Mastroeni, while Zac MacMath shined prior to Howard’s move this summer.
Mastroeni has helped the Rapids complete a remarkable turnaround, earning recognition as SBI MLS Midseason Coach of the Year while keeping his side in the playoff hunt.
Here’s a closer look at the rest of the nominees, as voted on by the SBI Editorial Staff:
2. PATRICK VIEIRA
The firing of Jason Kreis was met with skepticism by many, but Patrick Vieira has helped NYCFC progress in a major way in 2016. Following some rough patches, the first-year head coach has NYCFC atop the East as star Frank Lampard and rookie Jack Harrison continue to acclimate themselves to the lineup.
3. JIM CURTIN
The Philadelphia Union have been quite a surprise in 2016. A young roster has stepped up under Curtin, as prospects like Keegan Rosenberry have combined with European veterans Roland Alberg and Ilsinho to lead the Union into contention.
4. OSCAR PAREJA
After several years of success, Oscar Pareja is regarded as one of the top coaches in MLS, but his team’s 2016 performance might be its best yet. FC Dallas’ young core is reaching maturation, and Pareja’s side looks as strong as ever from their spot atop the Western Conference.
5. JEFF CASSAR
No one could have predicted how fast Jeff Cassar’s Real Salt Lake would rebuild itself into a playoff contender. Led by an exhilarating attacking trio of Burrito Martinez, Joao Plata and Yura Movsisyan, RSL has emerged as one of the West’s best.
What do you think of our selection? Who has stood out to you as Coach of the Year in 2016?
Share your thoughts below.