Preki Out As Saint Louis FC Head Coach, New Coach To Be Announced Monday
Preki & Saint Louis FC Have Parted Ways, New STLFC Head Coach To Be Introuduced Monday At Wesport Social
Saint Louis FC announced Sunday evening that the club has parted ways with head coach Predrag “Preki” Radosavljevic. The U.S. Soccer Hall of Famer and former St. Louis indoor soccer star was hired with much fanfare by the United Soccer League club last October.
In the club’s official announcement of the move, it was also announced that the new head coach of Saint Louis FC will be announced at 6 pm tonight at Westport Social in Maryland Heights.
EDIT Tonight’s event at Westport Social is limited to fans 21 years of age and older.
Steven Goff of the Washington Post reported on Twitter last night that Anthony Pulis will be the new head coach of Saint Louis FC, leaving Orlando City B.
Preki Wasn’t A Good Fit For Saint Louis FC
STLFC started the 2017 season with three wins in its first four matches, but ultimately finished with a 9-14-9 record. Finishing in 12th place in the USL’s Eastern Conference, STLFC missed the USL playoffs for the third consecutive season.
As the season went south on the pitch, so did the relationship between the STLFC faithful and Preki. No one envisioned a warm-and-fuzzy relationship between the coach and fans, but wins were seen as a great substitute for that.
One of the hosts of the excellent This Is Silly! podcast laid out why Preki wasn’t a good “fit” for the Saint Louis FC job.
“People outside of St. Louis will probably say we pulled the trigger on Preki too soon and should have given him more time. To those people I would say the decision was about more than wins and losses. It was about fit. Preki never “fit” in St. Louis. Rumors about how he handled players or criticism. His inability to connect to the fans or the city. His unwillingness to become a part of the overall soccer culture in St. Louis (which admittedly is a big hurdle for outsiders). In the end, as Mitch likes to say on the podcast, you can’t be a diva if you don’t win. IF Preki had won then we could all look past the other things he didn’t do right. But if you lose, you better be able to win over the fans another way. Preki doesn’t play that game.”
The This Is Silly! crew will be at Westport Social Monday night to record an interview with the new Saint Louis FC head coach.
Where Will Preki Go?
Even before the official announcement by Saint Louis FC, rumors came out that Preki would be named the head coach of the new Cal United FC franchise in the North American Soccer League. Although it is also possible that Cal United FC could join the USL next season.
At Cal United FC, Preki could be teaming with Eric Wynalda to lead the club. Wynalda is campaigning to be the next president of the U.S. Soccer Federation. In the event he doesn’t win that election, it’s expected that he would be the club’s Technical Director.
No word on if Nick Radosavljevic has any plans to join Cal United FC at this point.
Orlando City B Under Pulis
While Anthony Pulis will be the rumored hire by the club, the move has not been confirmed as of this writing. Pulis led Orlando City B to a 10-10-12 record last season.
Orlando City B, the USL affiliate of Major League Soccer’s Orlando City SC, was 19-24-20 in two seasons under Pulis. The club made the USL playoffs in its first season and missed the playoffs by two points this past season.
STLFC and OCB played two matches against each other in 2017, playing to a draw in Orlando and STLFC earning a 2-0 win at home.
OCB had a record of just 3-5-8 this season at Orlando City Stadium, but a 7-5-4 record on the road. The average attendance for OCB matches at home this season was just 1,175 per match in the 25,500-seat stadium.
Independent Versus MLS 2
With a OCB being an MLS 2 club, Pulis had some contraints he wouldn’t have with an independent club like STLFC in terms of lineups and playing style.
The Saint Louis FC roster this past season featured just three players from the previous season. After being hired, Preki was able to largely build a roster of his choosing. Players Preki had won USL championships in the past were brought in like Tony Walls, Ivan Mirkovic, Octavio Guzman and Dragan Stojkov.
USL contracts are largely a mystery to the general public. Neither length nor salary figures are readily available like they are with MLB or NFL salaries.
It’s rumored that STLFC has just four players under contract for next season. One of those players is Irvin Herrera, who is currently on loan to the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League.
Anthony Pulis Is Not Claude Anelka
Anthony Pulis played professional soccer for ten years in England. He played for a variety of clubs, including Portsmouth, Stoke City and Southhampton. Internationally, Pulis represented Wales four times at the Under-21 level.
In 2012 Pulis made the move stateside, becoming a player-coach for Orlando City. He spent three seasons as a player-coach with Orlando City before the club transitioned to Major League Soccer.
When Orlando City announced a return to the USL, Pulis was named the head coach.
Some may see OCB’s record under Pulis and wonder why a sub-.500 coach is being brought in to replace Preki.
David Rohe of The Mane Land, the Orlando City SB Nation blog, pointed out that Pulis’ job at OCB wasn’t necessarily to win as many matches as possible.
“Ant’s real job is to take the players he has on OCB and get them ready to play for the MLS squad. This means that player development is his primary concern — even above winning. Let me be clear, I’m not saying that he is sacrificing wins for any particular player. Nor am I saying that he and the players are not giving it their all each and every game. Of course they are. But, it does mean that during games he is also working on their situational awareness, their set piece skills, their passing, and on and on. Yes they work on that during practice, but also during matches.”
Anthony Pulis is the son of Tony Pulis, who was until today the coach of West Bromwich Albion FC in England’s Premier League.
St. Louis soccer fans may draw comparisons between a hiring of Anthony Pulis and the hiring of Claude Anelka to coach the short-lived AC St. Louis club. Anelka had very little coaching experience, but is the older brother of French soccer star Nicolas Anelka.
While the AC St. Louis era was a disaster, the Anelka era for the club was on another level. He was fired after the club started its only season of existence 2-7-1.
So while the comparison may be fun to make and make me giggle, Anthony Pulis is much more qualified to be the Saint Louis FC manager than Claude Anelka was to be the AC St. Louis Boss.
Then again Jim Kavanaugh, Tom Strunk and company are also much more qualified to run a soccer club than Jeff Cooper.
But What About Marc Dos Santos?
While Anthony Pulis is the rumored Saint Louis FC hire, it has not yet been officially confirmed. Several other names have been brought up as possibilities including Marc Dos Santos, Jimmy Nielsen, Alessandro Nesta and Nikola Popovic.
Nielsen recently “parted ways” with Oklahoma City Energy FC after four seasons.
Popovic recently resigned after one season as the head coach of the Swope Park Rangers. Popovic lead SPR to the USL Cup Final, where it fell to Louisville City FC.
Alessandro Nesta recently stepped down as the manager of the NASL’s Miami FC club. Rumors have him either becoming the head coach of the Montreal Impact in MLS or returning to Italy to work with the Italian Soccer Federation.
Dos Santos is name that has been brought up on social media by STLFC supporters. The Canadian coach has had success in the USL with Ottawa and Swope Park.
Dos Santos was the head coach of the San Francisco Deltas of the NASL up until last Friday. The club won the league championship the previous Sunday and will likely fold shortly, although an official announcement has not been made yet.
It’s rumored that Dos Santos will be named the next manager of the Portland Timbers of MLS.
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