No club in MLS experienced a more dramatic turnaround than the Colorado Rapids this season.
One year after finishing at the bottom of the Western Conference, head coach Pablo Mastroeni guided his team to second place in the West before reaching the conference final. These achievements have led to Mastroeni winning the SBI MLS Coach of the Year honors for 2016.
On top of their high standing, the Rapids conceded a league-low 32 goals and were 90 minutes away from MLS Cup despite experiencing a few key injuries throughout the season.
Mastroeni, much like his own team, improved dramatically over 12 months and will be hoping that he can build on the success of 2016 in the future.
Here’s a closer look at the other nominees for SBI MLS Coach of the Year:
2. Patrick Vieira
New York City FC is one of MLS’ highest spenders, but it still failed to reach the playoffs in its inaugural season in 2015. However, the hiring of Patrick Vieira as head coach proved to be a smart choice as NYCFC finished in second place in the Eastern Conference before getting knocked out by Toronto FC in the conference semifinals. Nonetheless, Vieira was able to field a consistent starting XI and it led to fantastic production from MVP candidate David Villa. If it wasn’t for Mastroeni’s incredible 2016, Vieira would’ve had a shot at winning the award.
3. Oscar Pareja
After narrowly missing out on the Supporters’ Shield last season, Oscar Pareja and FC Dallas won the Shield and claimed the U.S. Open Cup in the process. The Open Cup was Dallas’ first major trophy since 1997. Pareja also took the Hoops to the Western Conference semifinals, but an injury to Mauro Diaz and the departure of Fabian Castillo proved to be too much of a loss as they came up short against the Seattle Sounders in the postseason.
4. Jesse Marsch
Jesse Marsch certainly did not experience a sophomore slump with the New York Red Bulls in 2016. Despite losing six of their first seven games, Marsch and the Red Bulls earned the top seed in the Eastern Conference, but were eventually eliminated by the Montreal Impact in the conference semifinals. Had it not been for the early elimination, the 43-year-old would have challenged for the Coach of the Year honors.
5. Brian Schmetzer
In July, the Seattle Sounders were dead and buried. Sigi Schmid was fired, so his assistant, Brian Schmetzer, filled the head coaching role on an interim basis. Schmetzer only lost two of 15 regular-season games and took Seattle to the playoffs. Despite the loss of Clint Dempsey and other key contributors, the 54-year-old guided his team to their first-ever MLS Cup final.