Tuesday Kicker: Locker Room Issues

Tuesday Kicker: Locker Room Issues

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On May 20, 2008
  • Steve Morrow, Tom Soehn

Preston Keres - The PostIn a way this is a coaching hot seat kind of post here but in a way its just an opinion or overview of what I think is going on in two Major League Soccer locker rooms at the moment.

Reports in recent weeks say that there are some issues going on in the DC and Dallas locker rooms. DC could be in the middle of a coaching change and Dallas seems to be losing respect for their coach. Fans are a little tired in both towns due to moves both made in the offseason. DC made lots of moves while Dallas added a couple pieces after trading away was what said to be a locker room cancer.

I will start with DC as they seem to be maybe the more confusing of the two.

Questions have been raised over the past couple weeks about the chance that head coach Tom Soehn could be fired this season for the way things have been going with his club. After eight weeks its pretty evident that things aren’t going too well in DC these days.

Two wins and six losses are telling some people that Soehn isn’t the man for the job. Same may even take this further back to last fall with DC in the playoffs. Lots of people blame Soehn for his formations and tactics in the first round exit against Chicago.

Either way you spin it, things just aren’t going well for Soehn and his club these days. Injuries could be to blame, poor player signings in the offseason could be as well, and so could just the overall cohesion of the team. Or maybe just being over hyped as the best club by people like myself and other media members.

Usually when a club makes a lot of changes in an offseason like DC did this year it means a couple of things. It means the club is expecting to win and in the previous year something was missing that could have helped out before. I think it also puts pressure on the coach to win with those new parts right away. High profile signings always indicate that the coach needs a little lift or boost; and a lot of times it works out like in Chicago with Blanco or in Columbus with Schelotto.

You look at this season with DC and you can tell things are not great. Their best scorer from a year ago either isn’t happy or just lost a big step from a year ago. Their unsung hero in the midfield is out with an injury and may not even get to return this year. Just a bunch of little things with player movement like leaving a certain player open for the expansion draft. Plus a couple of the players brought in this season aren’t cutting it.

But all can be cured with a coach I think. That’s where the heat is on Soehn. Getting Luciano Emilio to play like the Emilio from a season ago and getting someone to step up for the absence of Ben Olsen and the loss of Brain Carroll. So far the pieces that were given to Soehn aren’t working and he hasn’t found the way to get them to work.

Now firing him or having him step down now would be a rash thing to do. But I’m sure any DC fan will call for his head right now. I would too if I were a fan.

But the thing is DC President Kevin Payne wants change but I don’t see him doing so in the form of a coaching change. DC, just like most clubs in this league, are one or two good players away from being able to reach a MLS Cup here. This club still has the talent to do some good things this season, it just may take a little longer than most would want to see.

Clubs like Chicago and Real Salt Lake made coaching changes this time last year is due to many reasons. Both coaches weren’t work out at all but at the same time neither team had the right parts in place to do anything about it. Both clubs had to wait until the summer for players to come in and change things up.

I don’t think Soehn will be fired this year but with the heat on him this badly its hard to tell just how long the DC front office will hold out after their spending in the offseason. More than likely they will wait it out until the summer and then try to bring in some new talent to mix things up a bit. If that doesn’t work, then you can easily bet he will be gone sometime in this year.

(R. Horton for WVHooligan.com)Switching down south, Dallas is another mess. Reports over the last couple weeks have suggested that things in the Dallas locker room aren’t all that rosy these days. It was particularly interesting on Sunday after the LA game when Al Dia reporter Diego Aparicio posed a question about the locker room situation to Dallas coach Steve Morrow.

“Thatís a ridiculous statement, I have no comment.” – Steve Morrow

This all stemmed from a resent firing of an assistant coach Jorge Alvial. Aparicio wrote on his blog about the events surrounding Alvial (in Spanish). He wrote that some players were upset over the release of Alvial and that they were getting frustrated with how Morrow was treating the situation.

This isn’t a first with Dallas. Over the past year or so we’ve seen players get upset over contracts and such with the Dallas coaches and front office. Mostly it seems to be a bit of the same deal. Player is promised a certain thing if he plays well in the first season of the contract. The player then lives up the promise and the club then seems to fail at living up to their end of the promise.

Alvia apparently was taking a stand for the players and thus was let go by Morrow because of it. Some players are even said to have a total lack of respect for Morrow. To that, I can say losing causes loss of respect and even in times of winning there are players who don’t fully respect a coach.

The fact of the matter is that some are getting the feeling that Morrow is losing control of his club and that is showing up on the field.† Losing always breads more losing. Just as winning breads more winning. Both are contagious. So I don’t think he has fully lost control of his club here.

But unlike DC, this wasn’t all totally unexpected here with this club. Expectations were already set in most people’s mind that this would be a .500% club this season. They are young and are easily showing their age right now. But the longer the growing pains go, the more fans in Dallas will get restless with Morrow.

No longer can the club throw out the excuse that there is a locker room cancer like Carlos Ruiz or Ramon Nunez. Right now there aren’t any players like that.

The hot seat is hot though for Morrow just as it is for GM Michael Hitchcock. Both are in tough spots and could see the boot. But more than likely that boot won’t be kicked until after the season. The only thing I can see saving their jobs right now is winning. But not winning in the sense that the club wins just enough to reach the playoffs and then lose in the first round kind of winning. More like they win, get into the playoffs and actually win a series.

Both coaches deserve to be on the hot seat right now but at the same time they both deserve a little more time to work things out and patch things up. Hell, Morrow even went as far to say that the club would win the next game coming up against RSL.

Things usually resolve themselves in situations like DC and Dallas. Its just how long can you the fan wait it out? I know the Dallas fan in me is frustrated but I know things will work out.