As we near the new year and enter MLS' offseason, the possibility of Atlanta United hiring their manager increases.
The AUFC brass have given us very little clue as to when this massive club milestone will occur. The biggest hint we've received is from club president Darren Eales. He told us when we interviewed him back in July that Summer of 2016 is the hypothetical date we could see a manager signed.
"If you had to force me to tell you when we are going to name a head coach I would say Summer ‘16, and the reason I would say that is because the season in the rest of the world tends to run from July 1 to the end of June, and that tends to be when coaches are at the end of their contracts."
It's all a guessing game at this point with no solid information to guide us to a conclusion. To help us narrow down the time frame of the club signing a manager it helps to look at history. Comparing Atlanta United to every other expansion clubs to enter MLS just isn't fair. There are two types of expansion clubs. The most common are franchises who move from the USL or NASL into MLS with an already existing identity, coaching staff and roster. The other, which Atlanta United fits into, is more rare. Clubs who are created from scratch.
Since 2007, nine clubs have entered MLS and only three of them have been brand new franchises. Narrowing down the comparison to these three clubs' first hirings should give us some kind of idea of when to expect Atlanta United to begin the fun.
Hired Mo Johnston in August 2006, seven months before their inaugural season
Hired Piotr Nowak in May 2009, 10 months before their inaugural season
Hired Jason Kreis in December 2013, 15 months before their inaugural season
While the timespans vary, they still give us a decent idea of what to expect. A manager for a brand new franchise was usually hired on an average of 11 months before the clubs' first MLS match.
There have been absolutely no rumors linking AUFC to anyone at all. Not even a little smoke. There's no doubt that behind the scenes Darren Eales and Carlos Bocanegra are working tirelessly to find the right fit for the manager position. At this point we'll have to take Darren's hint as a sign that the first manager in club history won't be hired until this summer. We'll be here waiting patiently...