MLS Pink Slip Talk

MLS Pink Slip Talk

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On October 30, 2007

The playoffs may be in full gear right now but it is also a good time to discuss which MLS coach will be fired for not getting his club to the post-season dance.

Out of the five coaches, who’s teams failed to reach the playoffs I really see two getting the boot in the coming months before next season. I think one is a definite boot while the other may just leave and go elsewhere, perhaps San Jose.

Usually we think in America that if a club/team fails to reach the playoffs that the coach is largely to blame. That isn’t quite the case for a couple times. But for others it easily was the case.

Fernando Clavijo, Colorado Rapids – By far the easiest one to guess which would be fired is Clavijo. Clavijo’s three-year tenure with the Rapids has been mediocre at best having three straight fourth-place finishes in the West and this year’s poor record (fourth worst in MLS) make it clear that the Rapids just haven’t improved under Clavijo.

When Clavijo took over the club he said by the third season the Rapids would be in the MLS Cup. Bold statement for a man that has failed to turn-around every club that he has ever coached. Colorado has posted a 33-39-22 overall record in the past three years and during that time the Rapids have never been considered dangerous or remotely entertaining. I thought they would have been better this season but I was terribly wrong after a month into the season.

I will say this, it all hasn’t been Clavijo’s fault. Really, it hasn’t. The Rapids front-office is amoung the worst in the league, they rearly spend money on players and should have had the bright side to fire Clavijo when they had the chance to this summer. But, Clavijo did have some stupid moments this season, like trading fan-favorite Kyle Beckerman to rival Real Salt Lake, a deal that was horrible for the Rapids.

Don’t expect this dude back next season, and if for some reason he is, expect a riot from die-hard Rapids fans.

Frank Yallop, LA Galaxy – On one hand I see him getting the boot, on another I see him walking away from the soap opera that is the Galaxy. Then I also see him sticking around because you have to give him a hat tip for turning this club around after everything that they went through this past season.

He inherited a flawed team in 2006 and then had to deal with the Beckham media circus this season. According to league sources, Yallop also had to deal with Alexi Lalas meddling in player personnel decisions, which only made Yallop’s job tougher. In that case, he should get an extention if anything.

Yallop is a hell of a coach and can turn the Galaxy back into the powerhouse that they should be. The real mess is with Lalas, if Yallop can be on the same page with Lalas then this club will be fine and his job will be fine. I honestly see him bolting town for the new gig in San Jose. I would expect him to be able to get a lot of leverage from GM John Doyle.

Jason Kreis, Real Salt Lake – You want to talk about inheriting a mess, look no further than Kreis’ Salt Lake squad. A month into the season Kreis went from player to coach after the firing of John Ellinger, the best move the club ever made. Salt Lake had been terrible at drafting and scouting players but with Kreis things got turned around.

It may have taken some time but by the end of the season the Royals were no longer the league push-over. RSL actually finished 4-4-3 in its final 11 matches and gave its fans the something special by eliminating arch-rival Colorado from playoff contention with a win in the season finale.

Kreis also did a good job with the roster, dealing veteran Chris Klein for young standouts Robbie Findley and Nathan Sturgis, and acquiring Argentineans Fabian Espindola, Matias Mantilla and Javier Morales. Also the trade for Kyle Beckerman was pretty good for Real too. Still a lot is concerned on how he can handle players but I think Kreis will be fine. He did pretty darn good for never even being an assistant anywhere before he took over. I fully expect Real to begin turning their fortunes around in the draft and in the off-season player movement. Also, they open up a new stadium next season, so othey will want some big time players to play there I think.

Mo Johnston, Toronto FC – For an expansion campaign, it wasn’t a horrible season for Mo. When I think of this first season for the Red I think of: amazing crowds, the record-breaking scoreless streak and Johnston’s constant wheeling and dealing.

Toronto finished with the worst record in the league, 6-17-7, but Johnston’s team was actually on an impressive run after a goal-less and point-less first four matches. The Reds put together a 5-3-5 stretch from May to June, which included wins against three playoff qualifiers (Chicago, Houston and FC Dallas).

The biggest thing that hurt the Reds was injuries, something no coach can be blamed for. Johnston did get some good young players through his numberous trades. He acquired defenders Marvell Wynne and Todd Dunivant from his former club, the Red Bulls, and signed English forward Danny Dichio, who became the fan favoriate in Toronto. Johnston also drafted Maurice Edu, a rookie of the year candidate and U.S. national team newcomer.

The Reds rewarded Johnston with a contract extension through 2009, but the pressure will be on next year to provide the type of results the club showed from May to July. I think a healthy TFC will be a good TFC next season if Johnston keeps dealing and drafting well though.

Sigi Schmid, Columbus Crew – When Sigi Schmid took over the Crew two years ago, he got a team with some young talent but little star power or depth. Now the Crew have a star in Guillermo Barros Schelotto, but still has many of the same issues it had when Schmid got the team two seasons ago.

The Crew were better in 2007 than in 2006, mostly due to Schelotto’s heroics. Schmid told the Columbus Dispatch that he would be back for another seasoon, which may be a shock to some since the Crew failed to reach the post season for a third striaght season.

Perhaps Crew management realizes that its own unwillingness to spend money has as much to do with Columbus’ struggles as Schmid does and may feel obligated to keep the man who helped land their only real star, Schelotto. I think Schmid will remain the coach there until he decides he can no longer help the club out.

Other coaches that could be on the hot seat:

Bruce Arena, New York Red Bulls – has the offense but now needs the defense to complete the package, I just don’t know how much longer the Red Bulls will give him to do so…

Dominic Kinnear, Houston Dynamo – I know you are thinking that this is stupid, but if the Dynamo lose their series to the Hoops this weekend, expect Kinnear to bolt town and go to San Jose….I know this isn’t a firing but it does mean Houston will need a new coach