There are no shortages of big names, both foreign and domestic, being linked to FC Cincinnati's head coaching vacancy. It is an ambitious list of names and prospective candidates that are lining up, resume in hand to interview with the expansion side.
The biggest name, and perhaps the most intriguing one a source tells ESPN FC, is Alan Pardew. A former manager with stops at West Ham, Newcastle and Crystal Palace, Pardew certainly brings both a high level of pedigree but remains a controversial manager in England for his rather plebeian style and tactical rigidity.
The 57-year-old English manager is "a serious candidate," according to one source.
Pardew has a familiarity with Cincinnati following a 2016 summer friendly between the club and the Crystal Palace side he coached at the time. His candidacy is based in part, a source said, "because of the relationship from Crystal Palace," when Pardew first was connected with the then-USL club in that friendly match.
Sources tell ESPN FC that in addition to Pardew, United States U-20 national team head coach Tab Ramos "is a candidate" for the position. A former United States international, Ramos achieved tremendous success this month with the U-20 team, advancing to the quarterfinals and beating France, considered a pre-tournament favorite.
Aitor Karanka, once capped by Spain and a former Colorado Rapids player, is also a candidate for the position, a source said. Boasting experience as an assistant at Real Madrid plus coaching stops in England's Championship with Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest, Karanka is expected to interview in the coming weeks.
ESPN FC can also confirm that Robert Maaskant interviewed with the organization last week but he has since taken a post with VVV-Venlo in the Eredivisie.
Last month, Cincinnati fired head coach Alan Koch, who had guided the team from the second-tier USL and into the opening stages of their expansion season in MLS. But poor form and player discontent pointed Koch towards a premature exit as he became the league's first head coach to be fired this season.
Assistant coach Yoann Damet has been serving as the interim head coach. In late May, the club announced that Gerard Nijkamp, an experienced Dutch technical director, would be their first ever general manager.
One name not expected to be a candidate is Phillip Cocu. The former Dutch international, who has guided teams such as PSV and Fenerbahce, was linked as a possible candidate for the job but a source said "that [Cocu] is not a likely fit at this time."
Cocu was expected to demand a large contract if hired.