The most famous British head coaches in the MLS, including Rooney, Neville, Nicol and more

Wayne Rooney has returned to management after being appointed the new head coach of his former club DC United. But a move to the MLS is not always a wise step for Brits.

The MLS hasn't always been a happy hunting ground for former Premier League players and internationals who have taken the step up to become a head coach.

With Wayne Rooney joining the MLS with DC United, once his P-1 Visa is through, Planet Sport delves into the good and the bad of British managers in the MLS.

Phil Neville

Clubs managed: Inter Miami

After a very ordinary stint as England women's manager, where he won the SheBelieves tournament in 2019, but failed to win the World Cup and went on a terrible run of seven defeats in 11 games, Neville stepped down in January 2021.

Luckily for him his England and former Manchester United teammate David Beckham needed a head coach for the Inter Miami job to replace Diego Alonso, who had left at the start of January.

They had a quick coffee, Beckham gave Neville the job, and he proceeded to take them to a very ordinary 11th in the 2021 Eastern Conference, 20th out of 26th in the MLS overall.

Neville isn't having much joy in his second season at Inter Miami either, currently 10th and outside the playoffs.

Steve Nicol

Clubs managed: Boston Bulldogs, New England Revolution

The former Liverpool and Scotland defender is arguably the most successful British manager in the MLS. He ranks sixth in the all-time regular season games won by a coach, however, failed to transfer that success to winning the MLS Cup with the New England Revolution.

Nicol spent ten seasons at the Revs, as an interim manager in 1999, then full-time from 2002 to 2011. The club finished MLS Cup runners-up four times during his tenure, three of them in consecutive seasons between 2005 and 2007.

He did lift a piece of silverware in the 2007 US Open Cup, beating FC Dallas 3-2.

Adrian Heath

Clubs managed: Austin Aztex, Orlando City, Minnesota United

Former Everton striker, Adrian Heath, moved to the US after short managerial spells at Burnley, Sheffield United and Coventry City, as a caretaker.

His first US role came at the now dissolved expansion side Austin Aztex. In 2011, the club relocated to Orlando in the USL Pro division, with Heath still in charge. He brought instant success to the club, winning the Pro League title in 2011 and 2013, and the Commissioner's Cup in 2011, 2012 and 2014.

Heath was unable to transfer his initial success to the MLS when Orlando City became an expansion franchise in 2015, and he was sacked in July 2016.

Minnesota United hired Heath for their first season in the MLS in 2017 and they finished 9th in the Western Conference, becoming the only team in MLS history to concede five or more goals in consecutive games.

The Loons struggled again in 2018, finishing 10th in the Conference, but improved in the following seasons to make it into the play-offs in 2019 and the semi-finals in 2020.

Heath also steered Minnesota to the final of the US Open Cup in 2019, where they were beaten 2-1 by Atlanta United.

Gary Smith

Clubs managed - Colorado Rapids, Atlanta Silverbacks, Nashville SC

A midfielder with an unremarkable career in the lower leagues of English football, made his way to Colorado to initially set up Arsenal's academy, due to the strategic bond between the clubs. However, in 2008 he was named the Rapids head coach, with the team at the bottom of the table.

Smith transformed the club in 2010. After finishing 5th in the Western Conference the Rapids went on to win the MLS Cup after beating FC Dallas 2-1 win in the final. The Rapids' first major trophy.

Smith left the Rapids at the end of the 2011 season, after failing to beat Sporting Kansas City in the play-off semi-finals.

After time at Stevenage in the UK and the Atlanta Silverbacks in the NASL, Smith joined new USL Nashville SC in 2017. The club joined the MLS as an expansion team in 2020 and Smith led them to the Eastern Conference semi-finals in their first season.

Colin Clarke

Clubs managed: Richmond Kickers, San Diego Flash, FC Dallas, Virginia Beach Mariners, Puerto Rico Islanders, Puerto Rico, North Carolina FC

Clarke, a Northern Ireland international with 38 caps under his belt, made his managerial name in the US.

He started with short spells at Richmond Kickers and San Diego Flash, before winning the MLS Western Conference with FC Dallas in 2006. However, he was sacked after losing on penalties in the play-offs.

He spent four years at the Puerto Rico Islanders where he won the Commissioner's Cup in 2008 and consecutive CFU Club Championships in 2010 and 2011. The Islanders were runners-up in the USL First Division in 2008. He also took the helm of the Puerto Rico national side in 2008.

In 2012, he joined the Carolina RailHawks (now North Carolina FC) in the USL Championship, but was unable to take the club any further than the play-off semi-finals and left the club in 2018 after seven seasons in charge.

Owen Coyle

Clubs managed: Houston Dynamo

The former Bolton and Burnley manager spent just one full season in charge of the Houston Dynamo in the MLS, finishing a lowly 8th place in the Western Conference in 2015.

Coyle's Dynamo only claimed 14 wins from his 46 MLS games in charge and he left the club in the May of the 2016 season.

After a failed attempt at managing in the UK again with Blackburn Rovers and Ross County, Coyle made his way to the Indian Super League with Jamshedpur FC, where he collected the League Winner's Shield.

Queen's Park, the oldest club in Scotland, have him at the helm for the 2022 season.

Carl Robinson

Clubs managed: Vancouver White Caps

Not to be confused with Oxford manager, Karl Robinson, the Vancouver Whitecaps' Carl Robinson spent five seasons at the Canadian MLS club.

The Welsh international won 77 on his 199 games in charge of the Caps, and guided them to three play-off appearances; including two Western Conference semi-finals, the 2015 Canadian Championship and the semi-finals of the 2016/17 CONCACAF Champions League.

He left the Whitecaps in 2018, five games from the end of the regular season. He settled in Australia, managing the Newcastle Jets and then until January 2022 the Western Sydney Wanderers.

Mo Johnston

Clubs managed: New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC

The former Scotland striker, who gained notoriety for playing for both Celtic and Rangers in the 1980s, managed the New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC in the MLS.

Johnston won the MLS Cup as a player with the Kansas City Wizards, but wasn't able to bring that success to his managerial career.

In 2006, he was sacked by New York in his first season, after winning just five of his 16 games in charge.

He was named head coach at Toronto FC for their inaugural MLS season in 2007. However, after just six wins in 30 games, 'Trader Mo' as he was nicknamed due to his transfer dealings, was moved upstairs to become director of soccer.

He left his role at Toronto in 2010 as the club continued to fail to reach the play-offs.

Paul Mariner

Clubs managed: Toronto FC

Another international striker who failed to make the grade in Canada. Paul Mariner was named head coach in 2012 after stepping up from his role as director of player development.

The England and Arsenal forward's 28 games in charge garnered just six wins and The Reds failed to secure a play-off spot. He was sacked in January 2013, after just seven months into the job.

John Spencer

Clubs managed: Portland Timbers

After spending four successful years as assistant manager at back-to-back MLS Cup champions the Houston Dynamo, Spencer was given a shot as head coach of the Portland Timbers in 2011.

Unfortunately for the former Chelsea, Colorado and Scotland striker it was short-lived and he returned to assistant management after less than two seasons in the top job.

The Timbers finished just outside the play-off picture in the club's first season in the MLS. However, Spencer was sacked in July of the following season as the team failed to make any progress.

Ray Hudson

Clubs managed: Miami Fusion and DC United

Hudson spent most of his playing career in the North American Soccer League during the 1970s and 80s, most famously for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

The Gateshead-born midfielder was Miami Fusion's TV commentator when he was named head coach during the 2000 season.

In 2001, Hudson led the club to the Supporters' Shield trophy, the Eastern Conference and the play-off semi-finals.

Fusion folded in 2002 and Hudson was made head coach of DC United. The club didn't qualify for the 2002 play-offs and were knocked out in the quarter-finals in 2003 by Chicago Fire. Hudson was replaced by Piotr Nowak in 2004.

Ron Newman

Clubs managed: Dallas Tornado, Los Angeles Skyhawks, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Miami Americans, San Diego Sockers, Arizona Sandsharks, Kansas City Wizards

To fans of the Premier League, Ron Newman is probably the least famous name on the list, however, he is the only one to be inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

After a playing career that included Portsmouth, Gillingham, Crystal Palace and the Atlanta Chiefs, Newman became player/coach of Dallas Tornado in 1969.

He remained in US management for the next 30 years and became the first ever MLS manager in 1996 when he became head coach of the Kansas City Wizards.

He led the Wizards to the Western Division title in 1997, but finished last in 1998 and 1999, which resulted in his sacking and ultimately his retirement.

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