For a relatively small Spanish Segunda Division club, Girona is doing pretty well for itself. Winner of four of its last five, it is currently in a three-way tie atop the standings, despite working with a small budget. Happy times, indeed, but the party may just be getting started. The financially struggling Girona is about to blow up and hit the big time, thanks to an angel investment from Guardiola himself. OK, it’s not Pep, but it’s Pep-adjacent. His brother Pere — a player agent, with a client list that includes Luis Suárez — is leading an investor group hoping to turn a 2.3 million euro bid into full ownership of the team. Who knew buying into the upper levels of Spanish soccer was so cheap?
If this works out, siblings of other coaches are sure to want to try and jump into lower-division soccer. European families shouldn’t have all the fun, though. Now that the USL
Pro is rebranded, seeking a jump to second division status within the U.S. Soccer pyramid and full of MLS reserve sides, the time is right for the lesser-known siblings of MLS bosses to leave their current careers and get into the family business. We know a few familiar candidates that could see success in the new not-quite-MLS II era of USL.
Chuck Arena, brother of LA Galaxy boss Bruce Arena, is a renowned florist in southern California. He has a reputation for creating some of the most beautiful arrangements in the country, having won several awards at national flower and garden shows. Unfortunately, his storefront isn’t so successful, as Arena is known to be surly with his customers. Admirers of his work come in to place custom orders, and all they get are crumple-faced frowns for asking him about rare Cambodian flowers that he doesn’t use anymore.
Capt. Jake “The chief is on my ass!” Vermes is a former homicide detective in Burlngton Township, N.J., near where he and his twin brother — Sporting Kansas City coach, Peter Vermes — grew up and shared the exact same haircut. In high school, both Vermeses played varsity soccer and dreamed of joining the police academy. Peter rose up the hall monitor ranks, but was too frequently reprimanded for his harsh enforcement of school rules. The damage to his permanent record forced him to divert his attention to the playing field. Jake took it upon himself to carry the torch, and is known as the most boring, defensive, and fun-loathing officer in the county.
Newly hired Red Bull New York coach Jesse Marsch’s sister Jackie is more of a corporate raider. As a lawyer, she has been involved with several hostile takeovers, specializing in smoothing over customer relations when one beloved company is unexpectedly bought out and replaced by a less-favorable one. Is a local “mom and pop” restaurant about to be swallowed up by a cookie cutter chain? Call Jackie Marsch. She’s a master of gathering angry investors into town hall-style meetings and resolving any issues, or lingering hard feelings.
Pere Guardiola buying Girona could make him a trailblazer in the cottage industry of “sort of like my brother, but not as good” club executives. Soccer genes are a real thing. The traits that make coaches great permeate through their families and manifest themselves in their relatives’ chosen fields. With the right push, these American family trees can establish roots deep down in USL and create dynasties of their own.