Have you heard the news? Former Republic head coach Preki is finally back in the managing game!
However, he did not land himself a job in the UK like he planned to do when he abandoned his position with the Republic midway through the 2015 season. Instead, he is back in USL as the new Saint Louis FC head coach.
The move took the ICS staff by surprise, as it did most of the American soccer community. Our thoughts on Preki’s return to USL are below.
Jeff Shunta (@JTShunta)
To me, Preki was instrumental in helping to build up the fledging club’s fanbase. Like most teams in all sports, success is very important in increasing fandom and engagement. This is not to say that Sac Republic would have struggled to draw fans in, but more an admission that under Preki’s stewardship the club’s fanbase took off like wildfire.
As a fan, I feel grateful that he was our manager and that he helped spur interest in the club. I was certainly disappointed when he left for the allure of greener pastures, however, I do not fault him as the fact of the matter is that the English Premier League is likely the most successful league in the entire world and opportunities to coach at that level are beyond sparse.
Even though that never worked out for him, I am glad that he will have another opportunity in the USL and cannot wait for the Republic to show him what he is missing.
Omar Gonzalez (@omarvelously)
The 2016 USL season isn’t even over yet and we already have some intriguing storylines looking ahead to the next iteration.
Although we all hoped it would be somewhere in the UK, it’s great to see Preki back in the game, even if it’s at a rival club. I have great respect for the man and really admire his bold decision to leave a sure thing on the table (i.e., a reported 7-year deal with Republic) in order to pursue a dream. He could have easily stayed in Sacramento, where he is still revered after leading the club to an inaugural season championship, and where there was also the potential to coach in MLS again, albeit several years down the road.
Instead, he took a chance that didn’t pan out as he hoped and was faced with a new choice: continue waiting out for an opportunity that may never come, or bite the bullet and take a coaching position below the level of his ambition.
Is it a step back for him? At first glance, it may seem that way. St. Louis FC finished 15th out of 16 teams in the Western Conference this year, so he’ll have his work cut out for him (although to be fair, St. Louis would have ranked 9th in the weaker Eastern Conference with the same points total). However, St. Louis is a young team at two-seasons-old and all the talk about them being considered as another MLS expansion side will no doubt have fallen on Preki’s ears as well. Even if that doesn’t come to fruition, if he can turn this team around and have them consistently making the playoffs, there’s a chance other, non-USL clubs will take notice.
In any case, it will be great to see the reception Sacramento fans give Preki next season at his first match in Bonney at the helm of his new club.
Evan Eyster (@IronPonyChef)
While I would have preferred Preki to stay in the USL, especially though the end of the 2015 season, I wish him the best in Saint Louis. There are quite a few pieces there, and with his talent at recruiting players, I am confident that he will make Saint Louis at least playoff relevant in the East next season.
The other benefit of having Preki return to the USL is the more international attention that a name as big as his is coaching will bring to the league. Anything to build the recognition of the league and talent is a good thing.
I know that Preki wanted to move up in the tiers of being the manager at clubs throughout the season, and wish him the best in using Saint Louis to continue his career.
George Shiel (@GeorgeMShiel)
It's hard to gather my thoughts about Preki coming back to USL. Sure, I was disappointed when he left in the middle of the season. I'm sure most fans and players on the roster were a little puzzled by the departure.
Nonetheless, he's back and this time he's coaching a division rival. It's unfortunate that things didn't work out for him in the EPL but I've moved on. I've had time to get used to Buckle's system of defense first which landed the Republic to first place in the Western Conference. I'm not sure if Preki would have been as successful in a much tougher USL than when he won a championship back in 2014.
We'll definitely find out if he can finish ahead of the Republic in 2017. Let's hope Saint Louis FC comes to Bonney next season and we can truly see which system is better. Get ready for Buckle v Preki 2017.
What are your thoughts about the news that Preki is returning to USL as the new head coach of Saint Louis? Sound off in the comments below!