Curt Onalfo has been fired as head coach of the Kansas City Wizards, teams sources informed SBI on Monday evening. The club is expected to name an interim head coach on Tuesday (with general manager Peter Vermes mentioned as a likely choice to take the position for the remainder of the year).
The move comes just two days after the Wizards suffered an embarrassing 6-0 loss to FC Dallas, but team sources tell SBI that the move was not a knee-jerk reaction to Saturday's result. The Wizards are 5-7-6 and currently in sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
(UPDATE)- The Wizards just made the news official, with this statement coming from Wizards CEO and president Robb Heineman:
"Our shareholder group is thankful for Curt Onalfo's service over the last two-and-a-half seasons, but we felt a change needed to be made," Heineman said. "We are committed to developing high-performance and consistency around our club."
Onalfo compiled a 27-29-22 record over three seasons in charge of the Wizards, leading the team to the playoffs in each of his first two seasons.
Onalfo had appeared to be safe in his job, but Wizards ownership ultimately decided that the club hadn't shown enough progress during Onalfo's three seasons and decided to push things into a different direction.
So who might replace Onalfo?
The Wizards will name an interim replacement on Tuesday and general manager Peter Vermes is being mentioned as the likely interim choice. As far as potential long-term replacements, one name that comes to mind is Columbus Crew technical director and former Kansas City Wizards assistant Brian Bliss. Not sure if Bliss is being considered but I know he was someone who was seriously interested in becoming a head coach, has the credentials, and did help build an MLS Cup champion in Columbus.
Another person who I saw recently who told me he had some things in the works is former MetroStars and Los Angeles Galaxy head coach Octavio Zambrano. Don't see any obvious ties between Zambrano and the current Wizards group, but he is still one of the winningest coaches in league history despite not having coached in the league since 2002. He is coaching in Hungary, but was recently in the United States working with the FIFA technical committee during the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Zambrano would absolutely love to return to MLS, but has struggled to get serious looks since being fired as MetroStars head coach in 2002.
One other name to consider as a long-term solution is Chivas USA head coach Preki, who has strong ties to Kansas City, having starred there for nine of his ten MLS seasons as a player.
The decision will ultimately be Peter Vermes' to make and you have to wonder who he might have in mind.
What do you think of the news? Who do you see replacing Onalfo? Share your thoughts below.