Thursday, January 21, 2010

Revolution's championship stamp

Clubs around the world might do well to seriously consider former New England Revolution players in their coaching searches.

Walter Zenga blazed the trail, guiding Steaua Bucharest to the Romanian title in 2005. The next year, Zenga coached Red Star Belgrade to the Serbia championship.

Last year, three former Revolution players -- Leonel Alvarez, Chiquinho Conde and Mauricio Wright -- coached championship teams in their home countries:

-- Alvarez (Deportivo Independiente Medellin) performed for the Revolution from 1999-2001;

-- Conde, who scored six goals in 17 Revolution appearances in 1997, took over Ferroviario with 13 games remaining in the season and guided it to both the Mozambique cup and league titles;

-- Wright, a Revolution defender in 2000-01, led Brujas FC to the Costa Rica championship.

Conde is attempting to find a position in Portugal. Conde starred for Sporting under Carlos Queiroz (now Portugal's national team coach), and served an apprenticeship when Queiroz was at Real Madrid.

Zenga, 49, started his coaching career as a late-season replacement for Thomas Rongen in 1998, then returned as player-coach, but was fired before the end of the '99 season. Zenga was the most accomplished goalkeeper to ever perform in the MLS, helping Inter win the 1989 Serie A scudetto and Italy reach the 1990 World Cup semifinals. Zenga also guided National in Romania, Gaziantepspor in Turkey and Al Ain in the UAE, then returned to Romania with Dinamo Bucharest. Some of Zenga's best accomplishments have been keeping Catania in Serie A after a late-season 2008 hiring, and guiding the Sicilian club to 16th place (38 points) in 2008-09; he was fired after gaining 15 points in 13 games with Palermo this season, the 18th managerial change since Maurizio Zamparini took over the club in 2002.

Zenga was hoping to land the New York Red Bulls job, which went to Hans Backe. Zenga would do well with mid-level Serie A clubs; if he proves himself there (he was successful with Catania, then led Palermo to a 4-6-3 record), he could end up guiding Inter, which appears to be his destiny -- has anyone ever been a ballboy for a club, then won a championship playing for it, then successfully coached the club?

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