Ruud Gullit: Salary cap makes MLS tough for foreign managers

The former European Player of the Year took charge of the LA Galaxy in 2008 and found it difficult to adjust to the North American game.


Ruud Gullit says MLS has plenty for foreign managers to cope with and that several of the league's idiosyncrasies surprised him.

Gullit said the MLS youth system can be frustrating, with regulations preventing some of the free movement between youth teams and the first team that exists in Europe.

"Also, what is difficult for foreigners is that you have a salary cap, and I had to pay 22 players out of that salary cap," Gullit told Goal USA. "And if you want to have a new player, you couldn’t do that because first you had to trade, you had to get players out to get something in. Difficult. It’s not easy."

Gullit took charge of a LA Galaxy side that was headlined by David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Carlos Ruiz in 2008, but left in August of the same year with a record six wins, eight defeats and five draws. The Galaxy would end the season in last place in the Western Conference.

The Dutchman also said that when things start to go bad, as they did during a seven-match winless skid that preceded his departure from the Galaxy, it's very tough to turn things around.

"The thing is, we covered the salary cap, you can’t do a lot to change things. It’s very difficult," he said. "You have to have a lot of patience in order to change that because the opposition is not going to sell the best players to you. For that reason, it’s not easy if you’re having problems to change things."

The comments bring to mind those made last month by Didier Drogba. Drogba, a former Chelsea star like Gullit, is now playing with the Montreal Impact and said MLS is more difficult than many expect, in part because of travel and logistical concerns.

But even more than foreign players, it has long been a trope that managers not familiar with the North American league struggle to adjust. Scottish manager Owen Coyle missed the postseason in 2015 in his first year with the Houston Dynamo. Patrick Vieira, a Frenchman, of New York City FC and Serbian Veljko Paunovic of the Chicago Fire will attempt to be the first non-American manager to lift MLS Cup since Gary Smith in 2010. 

The Galaxy made the postseason the year after the 2008 season, losing MLS Cup to Real Salt Lake on penalty kicks. Gullit is now a television commentator, and is featured on beIN Sports' coverage of La Liga this weekend as a special guest.