From America to the Premier League: Mike White on his career as an international football

Mike White made 20 Premier League coaching stops, the last being in 2017 with Newcastle. Mike White has had a long and varied career, taking different stops at different clubs, but he’s best known…

From America to the Premier League: Mike White on his career as an international football

Mike White made 20 Premier League coaching stops, the last being in 2017 with Newcastle.

Mike White has had a long and varied career, taking different stops at different clubs, but he’s best known for two tenures in his native country – or as he calls it, a beach town.

The American first moved to California in the late 1980s, a professional football player trying to help him make it in the professional sport. He went on to become coach of the Portland Mayne Islanders and then the Maui Challengers in the United States Soccer League – a league founded by fellow Americans Juninho, Carlos Ruiz and Gerardo Martino.

White stayed in the league for five years before going on to coach as a semi-pro with Golden Gate International, living in a caravan because a relocation was not possible at the time.

That period of time inspired a rather different footballing venture – a little more golf but now being played at the high cost of two-year passports. In this case, United States National Soccer League and Pachuca – Mexico’s most successful club – were likely the nearest adversaries.

In 1999 the Cali Ligas of Colombia won the Mexican championship – a first championship since 1970 – with a victory achieved thanks to an eight-goal blitz in the second leg of the final against Cruz Azul.

Mike White (centre) congratulates Colombian Juan Carlos Echeverri who scored twice in extra time

The victors had won 7-3 on aggregate, but defender Juan Carlos Echeverri had scored twice in extra time to complete the scoring and lift his side to victory.

Echeverri got his name in the record books thanks to the celebration which ensued.

Mexico legend Cuauhtemoc Blanco led celebrations at the big end of the Chivas stadium. Although he was represented by many players, that was the biggest one of them all.

Another big winner was a young American making his first appearance for a Mexican club. Diego Ramos appeared to score the winner for Pachuca in the second leg of the final, but it was in fact an American.

Mike White, perhaps because of the similarity of names, was called on to celebrate the goal. Red wine was poured over his head, some shoulder-volleying and a long standing dance.

White has continued to enjoy adventures on the golf course in California, but his coaching record at club level does not suggest a particular brilliance.

He spent six seasons with the very average Mayne Islanders before moving to work with the Challengers in the USSL.

Mike White coaching alongside his compatriot Irwin Sugiyama.

After two years in a backroom role at US football club Kansas City Wizards, he was offered the North American Soccer League job in 2006.

That’s when things got really interesting – and a little surreal.

New England Revolution and New York Red Bulls had appeared to match or come close to making a purchase of the USL-Chivas USA, a relatively new club formed in Los Angeles in 2007.

Then Revolution boss Jay Heaps decided the team should be added to the roster of MLS clubs. Heaps knew White well, having worked with him at the USFL champions Cali Ligas, and gave the coach the opportunity to take charge.

With that agreement, if he succeeded, the Easterners would be added to Major League Soccer in time for the 2009 season.

That not only meant a bigger name in the US Soccer League, but also expansion for the franchise, with the start-up team picking up five players from the failed takeover.

So, how did that work out? Chivas USA won a second title in 2008, but that was still well short of expectations for the franchise.

Then, in 2011, White’s departure was announced. He was given a brief spell as first team coach – which he managed with something of an ebb and flow – taking New England to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League and a Continental Cup triumph against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Five of those players from the Chivas USA Superdraft have gone on to shine in MLS – Dante López, Conor Casey, Alan Gordon, AJ DeLaGarza and Carlos Bocanegra, who is now with Spartak Moscow, while White has two of his players on current teams in the league in Omar Gonzalez and Luciano Acosta.

After a couple of seasons back in south-western California, Mike White’s farewell act was to advise on a move that saw his name ring round English shores.

If the focus is on his work in the international game, maybe Mike White now has a chance to add to the coaching cabinet that also includes Guus H

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