First-time MLS Cup coaches enjoy favorable record

Hyndman, Smith look to mirror success and join the fraternity

The exclusive coaching fraternity of winning MLS Cup coaches will add a new member this weekend, and history has traditionally favored first-time coaches in the big game slightly more than its sent them back to the drawing board.

Both FC Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman and his Colorado Rapids counterpart Gary Smith will make their first appearance in MLS Cup, assuring that the current collection of 10 winning coaches will grow to 11 by the time all is said and done at BMO Field in Toronto on Sunday (8:30 pm ET; ESPN, Galavisión).

First-time coaches have a record of 9-6 in the MLS Cup dating back to the 1996 season, when Bruce Arena and D.C. United won the inaugural title over the LA Galaxy and Lothar Osiander. A first-time coach has appeared in the MLS Cup every year other than 2007, when Dominic Kinnear and the Houston Dynamo topped Steve Nicol’s New England Revolution in a rematch of the 2006 final.

The last time two coaches made their MLS Cup debut against one another was in 1999, when Thomas Rongen and D.C. United beat Sigi Schmid and the LA Galaxy. Schmid has appeared in two MLS Cups since, winning the title with the Galaxy in 2002 and the Columbus Crew in 2008.

Real Salt Lake’s Jason Kreis became the latest coach to win MLS Cup in his first appearance in 2009, but that came a year after Juan Carlos Osorio came up empty handed in his debut against Schmid in 2008.

Other winners in their first appearance include US national team coach Bob Bradley (Chicago, 1998), Bob Gansler (Kansas City, 2000), Frank Yallop (San Jose, 2001), Peter Nowak (D.C. United, 2004), Steve Sampson (LA Galaxy, 2005) and Kinnear (Houston, 2006). Nowak is the only coach to win an MLS Cup in his first year with the team.

Schmid headlines the group of MLS coaches who lost in their first appearance in the title game. The list also includes Glenn Myernick (Colorado, 1997), Nicol (New England, 2002), Dave Sarachan (Chicago, 2003) and Osorio (2009).

Interestingly enough, Sarachan and Osorio are the only coaches to lead their teams to a runner-up finish in the MLS Cup during their first season with the team. Osorio replaced Sarachan at the helm of the Fire midway through the 2007 season before the Colombian coach joined New York before the 2008 campaign.

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