Question:

Can you rank the new MLS coaches from most to least successful so far this season?

Answer:

Yes, yes I can. But before I actually give my rankings, I think it’ll be helpful if I list the new coaches who are eligible for this list:

  • Steve Cherundolo, LAFC
  • Nico Estevez, FC Dallas
  • Paulo Nagamura, Houston Dynamo
  • Ezra Hendrickson, Chicago Fire
  • Pat Noonan, FC Cincinnati
  • Miguel Angel Ramirez, Charlotte FC

I’m not counting Bob Bradley in Toronto because he’s coached in MLS before and I’m not counting Alex Covelo in San Jose or Chad Ashton in D.C. because they’re both interim coaches. Okay, on to the rankings.

1. Steve Cherundolo, LAFC

With all of the talent on their roster – and some of the holes that John Thorrington plugged in the offseason – LAFC was pretty much always going to be good this season. Still, Cherundolo deserves praise for getting his team up to first in the Supporters’ Shield standings. Stylistic continuity has served him and LAFC well this season.

2. Pat Noonan, FC Cincinnati

Look, I know Cincinnati haven’t exactly lit MLS on fire with their results this season, but they are so much better than last year. It’s going to take a lot more work for Noonan and GM Chris Albright to turn Cincy all the way around, but they’re clearly making progress.

3. NICO ESTEVEZ, FC DALLAS

Dallas is fun again! They’re seventh in the Shield race based on points per game and Nico Estevez’s 4-3-3 with young Americans and USMNTers sprinkled all over the field has me coming back for more every weekend.

4. MIGUEL ANGEL RAMIREZ, CHARLOTTE FC

These last three spots are where things start to get real muddy, folks. Charlotte aren’t great, but Ramirez has given them some identifiable on-field traits even while working with a very incomplete roster. For an expansion team, things could be worse.

5. PAULO NAGAMURA, HOUSTON DYNAMO

Nagamura put himself behind the eight ball with some early season tactical choices, but now the Dynamo are doing some damage with their Darwin Quintero-centric 4-2-3-1.

6. EZRA HENDRICKSON, CHICAGO FIRE

I feel a little bad putting Hendrickson last here given that I think all six of these coaches have done a pretty commendable job in 2022. It’s not Hendrickson’s fault that the Fire are low on attacking depth (though adding Jairo Torres and Chris Mueller absolutely changes that) and he does deserve credit for improving Chicago’s defending. But somebody has to be last – and today, it’s Hendrickson.

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