By Tony Edwards - San Jose, CA (Jan 10, 2013) US Soccer Players - In Thursday’s column, Tony asks what success means for Toronto in 2013, examines Major League Soccer’s opening weekend broadcast schedule, and looks at DC United’s gamble on a young striker.
If you are hiring a head coach in Toronto, what might be two issues you should consider?
Does the coach understand Major League Soccer and does he understand that Toronto is legitimately a big market with the stadium to succeed, if not the infrastructure.
As coaching moves go, this is a new one, even for MLS. With Toronto FC president and general manager Kevin Payne dismissing holdover head coach Paul Mariner this week and replacing him with former DC United player Ryan Nelson, Payne is betting the players will embrace this situation, not let it fall into chaos.
To aid Nelson, and “run the ship” until Nelsen arrives full-time, Toronto added Fran O'Leary, a veteran college coach who has a long history with Nelsen. O'Leary has no professional or National Team coaching experience that I can locate.
Notice that the nowhere do the words “recent MLS experience” or “Canadian” appear in the descriptions of either coach.
I don't believe you have to be an astronaut to write about the moon, but Payne has brought in two people with no connection at all to Toronto. Maybe that part is a positive, as neither Nelsen nor O'Leary is associated with the stench of failure attached to previous Toronto regimes, but as a way to convince the fans a new day has dawned or the players in the locker room that they should buy-in? Between the goings-on at Chivas USA, Montreal, and Toronto, this is the offseason of coaching madness in MLS.
How many head coaches has Toronto FC had since they joined MLS?
Toronto's been around since 2007 and Nelsen, when he arrives, will be their 8th head coach.
TFC has a total of 45 league wins since 2007, with 10 in 2009 their best showing.
It’s Opening Weekend and the best MLS can do for its national broadcast partners is the Red Bulls at Portland on a Sunday evening?
Houston hosting DC United and Chicago against the Galaxy are the other national games that first weekend. There’s less than 30 broadcasts on a Spanish-language network (only one on Univision, the rest on UniMas) and seem to mostly take place in the Sunday at 5 pm Eastern slot.
I’m in favor of MLS going to something like the National Football League’s flex schedule when it comes to their broadcast schedule. What looks like a good matchup in January may well not be the case come July and some judicious, and well-planned, changes in the broadcast schedule might take advantage of some developing stories throughout the season.
Let’s give MLS some credit for competence, as they got the schedule out before training camp opened. Before the holidays would be better, in terms of giving teams an opportunity to put together packages, but early January for schedule release is a small step forward.
What is the key word in DC United’s loan signing of 20-year-old forward Rafael?
Loan. Despite what the press release might tell you, representing Brazil in the Pan-American games in 2011 doesn’t exactly put you in line for Big Phil’s team in 2014. DC is taking a chance (at the young DP price tag) on a striker. The question for Ben Olsen is: who plays? DC isn’t short of talent, and for the first time there’s expectation that DC will do more than contend for a playoff berth.
Did Montreal just discard one of its advantages just before the Draft and the start of training camp?
Reports out of Montreal indicate that on Tuesday the Impact fired Denis Hamlett and Mike Sorber, who had been assistants to former coach Jesse Marsch. Again, the new coach wants his own people in place or wants the players to hear different voices, but Montreal is betting internal candidates Mauro Biello and Philippe Eullaffroy are up to the job.
Apparently, the people who write the checks and make the decisions know better and know why their particular situations are going to be the outliers that succeed where previous, similar, coaching situations have failed, but when you willfully ignore best practices, you might well be asking for it.
Tony Edwards is a soccer writer from the Bay Area.