Preki To Coach Saint Louis FC: What It Means

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From Last Word on Soccer, by Matt Pollard

(Editorial)Saint Louis FC is due to announce their new head coaching hire this evening. Based on all the rumors, the USL club is due to sign former Sacramento Republic FC coach, Predrag Radosavljević, more commonly known as Preki. What does this signing mean for him and his new club? Let’s break it down.

Preki To Coach Saint Louis FC: What It Means

Preki Off The Grid:

First off, we haven’t heard from Preki in a long time. He last coached in July 2015. The Serbian American led then expansion side Sac Republic to a USL Pro Championship in 2014. He had the club playing well part way through the 2015 season when he resigned. All the rumors were that he was going to pursue coaching in England, with Leicester City FC looking for a new coach.

The Foxes ultimately decided on Claudio Ranieri (a wise decision). After that was announced, Preki hasn’t been seen or heard of much. He hasn’t been linked to many management openings either. There were even jokes on USL broadcasts of Sac Republic games that Preki was off the grid and even his old assistant coaches had no idea where he was.

Then the rumor started earlier this week and it took off like Batman returning to Gotham in Dark Knight Rises.

What It Means For Saint Louis FC:

This is a huge get for the club, regardless of Preki’s salary, term, or the level of control he will have in selecting players. He played the majority of his career in America and has coaching experience in both the USL and MLS. He knows the American Soccer structure and the culture. Preki was able to make an up-start Chivas USA team not totally suck. He clearly knows how to win in a lower division based on his experience with Sacramento.

Preki did have a meh 10 months with Toronto FC, but so has every coach (experienced, youth, big name or otherwise) prior to the club signing Giovinco.

It will be interesting to see how Preki evaluates the current talent on the roster. In Saint Louis FC’s first two seasons, they’ve been built to play a 4-2-3-1 possession style of play (not that it worked). The club obviously has talent in Irvin Herrera, James, Musa, Chad Bond, and others. They have potential in players like Sam Fink and Parker Maher as well.

Former head coach Dale Schilly was unable to make the system work or develop an alternative. With the existing roster, the club should be able to compete for a playoff spot in 2017. With a few moves and some fitting tactics, Preki could make them a contender just like he did with Sacramento.

What system Preki wants to use (he’s varied thing a bit throughout his career) will be interesting. We should start to see some insight into this as the club makes roster decisions over the winter.

In any case, they have an experienced coach. They have one who’s won in the past. And he’s from outside the St. Louis Scott Gallagher program. He’ll come in with new and varying ideas, which the club needs. There might not have been a bigger splash hiring the club could have made from coaches who were obtainable. Saint Louis FC and general manager Jeremy Alumbaugh should be commended for making this happen.

What It Means For Preki:

I’m still a bit shocked it took this long for Preki to be rumored for and get a new job. When the Leicester opportunity fizzled out, I was surprised another US based club didn’t pursue him. Maybe they did, but there weren’t any rumors. A USL team or two must have been interested in him. I’m surprised an MLS team didn’t try to snatch him up, even as an interim replacement at some point.

In any case, this is a new challenge for Preki to coach Saint Louis FC. He doesn’t get to select his team from scratch like in Sacramento. He has to evaluate what he has, build on it, and mold it into the formation and style of play he wants.

At best, he’s back in a league where he’s been before and can have success. At worst, it’s a stepping stone to get another big opportunity. It doesn’t seem likely that Europe will come calling anytime soon, especially since nothing came up for over a year.

Preki could be eyeing this as a 2-3 year stint to then make a jump to MLS. That seems both plausible and obtainable.