The soccer news starts with FIFA releasing their list of nominees for The Best Men's Coach 2018 award. This award includes national teams, and best of luck to Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov, England's Gareth Southgate, Belgium's Roberto Martinez, Croatia's Dalic Zlatko, and France's Didier Deschamps. It's not exactly a shock that these are the World Cup semifinalists plus Russia. We're going to run through the clubs the rest of the nominees represent. Juventus, Manchester City, Liverpool, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, and Real Madrid. It's not hard to spot the trend.
FIFA nominated the coaches of the teams that played in the Champions League final, the Europa League winner, the Premier League winner, the Serie A winner, and the La Liga champions. None of these were shock winners, with Liverpool the closest thing to a surprise.
Now, in a popular award it might be asking a bit much to delve through the coaching performances across leagues and tournaments to try to pick out the best. Still, it's worth wondering what coaching a team of superstars to a trophy or trophies really means in terms of skill. There's an old point worth revisiting. How would some of these coaches do with weaker teams? What's the level of difficulty in coaching the biggest clubs in Europe compared to running a team trying to avoid relegation without a transfer budget?
What are the biggest coaching challenges in soccer? Is it the pressure of the South American clubs where getting more than a year or two is its own triumph? Is it doing exceptionally well in a closed league with odd rules? Is it getting the most out of a team under a ridiculous situation? Is it showing how tactics can transform a struggling club or turn an outsider into a contender? Or is it doing what's expected in charge of the world's biggest clubs?
Again, no one should argue that what we're describing is the point of these awards. That all of these countries and clubs are European isn't a surprise given how the World Cup shook out and the dominance of European leagues. This is about the coaches who lift the biggest trophies in the sport or at least come close. Fair enough, all things considered. However, it can't help but send a message about the overall state of the game.
FIFA may have decreased the pressure on getting their revamped Club World Cup on the schedule, but the point of the competition is clear. The expansion is about getting in more than one European club, the biggest drivers for attention in world soccer. Given the gap at the top between clubs with money and those without, what else would they do? FIFA will announce their men's coach of the year along with the rest of their winners at The Best FIFA Football Awards on September 24 in London.
Also in the soccer news, US Soccer announced the semifinal pairings for the 2018 US Open Cup. Philadelphia hosts Chicago and Houston plays LAFC with both games scheduled for August 8. Chicago will host the final should they advance. If not, the winner of Houston vs LAFC will host. If it's Houston or LAFC, the final will be on September 26. If it's Chicago, October 3.
Pro Soccer USA's Marco Cummings with Tim Howard's comments on new Colorado Rapids teammate Kellyn Acosta. ESPN's Tom Marshall has Tigres already pushing back against the new rule requiring Liga MX teams to give time to U-21 players.
BBC Sport's Simon Stone explains why some Premier League teams are moving from managers to head coaches. Goal.com's Jamie Smith highlights the big games on the 2018-19 La Liga schedule. Bundesliga Fanatic's Gerry Whittmann looks at Josh Sargent as he prepares for his first pro season at Werder Bremen. Soccer America's Paul Kennedy on the current era of French player development.
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Photo courtesy of FIFA