Following in Bruce Arena's footsteps is no easy feat, but that won't stop plenty of coaches from throwing their hat in the ring to become the new LA Galaxy head coach.
Arena has reached an agreement with U.S. Soccer to become the new head coach of the U.S. national team, meaning the race to replace the 65-year-old is officially on.
The Galaxy job is arguably the most high-profile coaching position in MLS, what with its big-spending ownership and high-profile media market. The Galaxy could turn to an international name to take charge, but Ruud Gullit may have ruined things in LA for foreign coaches for a long time.
The Galaxy don't have to look far for solid candidates. There are several MLS names that could wind up in the running to take charge once Arena's eight-year tenure as Galaxy boss officially comes to an end.
Dave Sarachan's departure as associate head coach makes it that much less likely the Galaxy look within for a replacement, but they could turn to candidates with connections with the team, either as former players or coaches.
Here is a look at some top contenders to replace Arena with the Galaxy:
This name might surprise some people considering he is only a year removed from winning an MLS Cup with the Portland Timbers, and signed a new contract at that time, but signs point to Porter being a candidate the Galaxy will consider. If there is a coach in MLS right now with the coaching chops and personality to thrive in LA, it's Porter. Galaxy president Chris Klein and Porter were college teammates at Indiana University, and the Galaxy could be tempted by Porter's penchant for fielding teams that play an attractive brand of soccer.
Would the Timbers really let him go? They might be more inclined to let Porter go after missing the playoffs in 2016, but even that might not be enough to convince Timbers owner Merritt Paulson let Porter go to a Western Conference rival. Would Porter want to go? A chance to coach a stacked team with deep pockets in a major media market? There aren't many coaches who would pass if given the chance.
Another name that might surprise given this is his first successful season as a head coach, Mastroeni has the Galaxy connections, having spent his last year as a player with the Galaxy. He is also set to be a free agent at the end of the 2016 season. Sources tell Goal USA that Mastroeni won't sign a new deal until after the playoffs are over, which could leave the Rapids facing the nightmare scenario of winning an MLS Cup title and then losing their coach immediately.
Are his three years experience as a head coach enough for a high-profile job like the Galaxy's? Mastroeni's familiarity with the current coaching staff could allow the likes of Curt Onalfo and Kenny Arena to stay put, which might help with continuity. He is also familiar with Galaxy owner Phil Anschutz from Anschutz's days as owner of the Rapids.
Another member of the Arena coaching tree, Berhalter impressed in 2015 when he led the Columbus Crew to an MLS Cup final in his second year in charge. The 2016 season was a disappointment, though that was in part down to injuries. The Crew were still considered a team that played an attractive style of soccer, even if the results didn't go their way this year.
Will the Crew let him go? The Galaxy are likely to be willing to pay a sizable fee to get the candidate they want, so it could come down to whether Berhalter wants to make the move. There's no reason to think he wouldn't.
Another coach with ties to Klein, Vermes and Klein were teammates with the Kansas City Wizards and are very close. Vermes has been in charge of Sporting KC for eight years and could be ready for a change. An MLS Cup-winning coach in 2013 with Sporting KC, Vermes had long been considered a potential candidate to coach the U.S. national team one day, but with Arena taking that job, Vermes could be ready for a change.
What obstacles might stand in Vermes' way? The high-pressing style of play Vermes has long implemented with Sporting KC wouldn't be a good fit with the current Galaxy squad. At least not as good a fit as Porter or Berhalter's systems would be.
The former Kansas City Wizards boss has spent several years working with Arena on the Galaxy staff, and has kept his head coaching chops sharp by working with the team's USL affiliate. He knows the team, the academy setup, and current staff, and has previous MLS head coaching experience.
What holds him back? The names ahead of him on this list are all likely to be called ahead of him, but he's still very much a viable option.
Consider this a long shot, but then if anyone had told you Sunil Gulati would rehire Bruce Arena a decade later you would have thought them crazy too. In keeping with the reunion theme, Schmid would give the Galaxy another MLS Cup-winning coach, and one with experience coaching in LA. Schmid is also making a play for the LAFC coaching job as well, so the Galaxy could be tempted to snatch him up before the new neighbors do.
Call it unlikely. Aside from the fact Landon Donovan would probably try to veto the Galay from even considering this idea, Schmid is a long shot to beat out the other men on this list.