The Columbus Crew have interviewed former club legends Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Brad Friedel for their head coaching position and could be setting their sights on an even bigger target in the future: Bob Bradley.
Crew Chairman and Owner-Operator Anthony Precourt confirmed to MLSsoccer.com on Friday that the club has already interviewed both Schelotto and Friedel for the job, and said he is interested in speaking with Bradley, Egyptian national team head coach and former USMNT boss, about the position.
The Crew parted ways with longtime head coach Robert Warzycha on Sept. 2 and installed Technical Director Brian Bliss as the Interim Head Coach. The Black & Gold wrap up the season on Sunday against New England after being eliminated from playoff contention last weekend.
Schelotto was a name that many Columbus fans immediately clamored for when Warzycha was let go, and Precourt made it clear that the former MLS MVP is in the running for the coaching position that is expected to be announced by mid-November.
“[Crew president and GM] Mark McCullers is already on the record that we have interviewed Guillermo, and he's a fantastic candidate,” Precourt told MLSsoccer.com. “And of course we would interview Guillermo, he's great. We have tremendous respect for him. We've spoken with many former Crew players in the search, and Guillermo is a fantastic coaching candidate.”
Friedel represents another one of those players, and after rumors put the former US and Tottenham keeper in Columbus for the USA's World Cup qualifier against Mexico last month, Precourt confirmed that he had spent time with Friedel.
“We actually did meet with him at the USA-Mexico game,” Precourt said. “And he also sat with me for the [2-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo in Crew Stadium on Sept. 4]. Yeah, he's a candidate.”
Soccer America reported on Friday that the Crew are “expected to talk” with Bradley, who will lead Egypt in the second leg of their World Cup qualifying series against Ghana on Nov. 19 in Cairo. It’s unlikely that Bradley and Egypt will erase a five-goal deficit and advance to the World Cup, leaving Bradley with a potential new job opportunity next month.
“Absolutely,” Precourt said of his interest in Bradley. “He's a coach you'd want to talk to, he's a great one.”
The report also named US Under-20 national team head coach Tab Ramos, former Montreal Impact head coach Jesse Marsch and longtime San Jose Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop as potential targets for Columbus, but Precourt declined to confirm if any have been interviewed by the club during its search.
He also asserted that Bliss, who has expressed his interest in taking over as Head Coach full time in 2014, is a finalist for the position.
A four-person committee consisting of Precourt, McCullers, former Crew player and the team's brand ambassador Frankie Hejduk and executive director of Crew Juniors Andrew Arthurs is handling the hiring process, with metrics such as leadership, experience and personality all taken into account in the search.
“The four of us have put together a process where we established the criteria of what we're looking for and how it fits with the Crew brand,” Precourt said. “We set up a job description and thought about how we wanted the soccer operations to be structured and how it would be structured around the coach.”
Precourt said that the committee was looking for someone “who's been part of a winning program,” and who has a “great soccer network,” and “coaching or playing credentials,” among other attributes. He added that he personally wants a highly-competitive and high-energy coach.
He also made it clear that the club was looking everywhere in its search, including former MLS players and coaches, international coaches, USL coaches and even college coaches, and said that the team would even be willing to look at candidates currently under contract.
“We're not going to go in and raid somebody. But if a coach is close to coming out of contract, if it's within 12 months or so, we would explore a buy out,” Precourt said. “We're completely open-minded, and have cast a wide net and talked to many different colors and shapes and sizes.
"We are leaving no stone unturned. There's not a pre-cast prototype.”