Season Recaps: The Failing Six

Season Recaps: The Failing Six

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On October 28, 2008
  • 2 Comments
  • Season Recaps, Season Reviews

For six MLS clubs, 2008 will be a year of many “if’s” and “what could have beens”. They failed to reach the second season for various reasons. Fans are upset to a degree while others are wondering what it will take to get their club to the post season dance in 2009.

Here is a quick look at what went wrong and at times right for the Failing Six.

DC United (37 pts., eliminated on final day of the season)

What went wrong in 2008: Injuries plaqued the club from the start, a busy schedule throughout didn’t help and some off-season pickups turned into wastes of money. One could say that this club was by far one of the most disappointing clubs in MLS history with all the hype that surrounded this club going into the year. At times you could say it was coaching, other times you could say it was simply the players not living up to their billing. Either way there is a lot of work to be done in DC if they want to restore what they had built over the last couple years.

Where it all went wrong: The start of August. Let’s face it from August on it was a terrible schedule for DCU. In all competitions they won six games out of 21 games (one more is left in CCL though for this month). Sure it was jam packed but during that time they lost key guys on all sides of the ball.

When things went right: They did play well in stretches that had people thinking about this club in terms of a post season thought. They did win the US Open Cup, which means they will participate in next year’s CONCACAF Champions League. The best stretch was from late May up until the start of SuperLiga. They won seven out of the eight games played (in all competitions).

Best moves made: Bringing in Louis Crayton. By far the best move they made this year, even better than the (when healthy) Marcello Gallardo move. Crayton should be the starter for another couple years because we all know Zach Wells is not cut out for the gig. Other solid moves were landing guys like Ivan Guerreo and some solid USL talent on developmental contracts.

Worst moves made: Too many to list really. You could nearly put every single move (with the exception of Gallardo) made in the pre-season on here. None worked out all that well though a couple did manage to stay through the year.

Areas to improve for 09: Defensively they have to get better but more importantly they must get healthy in the midfield. That’s their bread and butter. Having a healthy Gallardo, Ben Olsen, and Fred really will help this club go a long way. If Olsen isn’t healthy enough to go they need to get a solid veteran midfielder with his kind of work ethic. That’s what they missed all year was Olsen’s work ethic in the middle of the park.

Outlook for 09: Its promising, but I have a feeling they will be on a coaching search real soon here. Tom Soehn had a lot of expectations and failed to meet most of them. If they don’t change away from Soehn they should still have a shot at things next year. When healthy this is still one of the better sides in the league. No CONCACAF Champions Cup to start out the year next season so it will be interesting to see a fresh DCU in 2009.

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Colorado Rapids (38 pts., eliminated on final weekend of play)

What went wrong in 2008: By far the most inconsistent club I’ve ever seen. Win one, lose one; win one, lose one. That was the story for this club. They eventually parted ways with Fernando Clavijo and things still didn’t go much better. At times they were always knocking on the door for the playoffs then to only get blown out.

Where it all went wrong: Not getting rid of Clavijo soon enough.

When things went right: Not too many times did things go very well. They’d blow a club out then to only get blown out the next game. But one stretch that was very good to them was the month of September. No losses in that month, the only month they were able to do that.

Best moves made: Landing Cory Gibbs. Once Gibbs was on board their defense got a hell of a lot better. Still inconsistent but at least one that was tougher and harder to beat.

Worst moves made: I don’t know if it was a terrible move but Christian Gomez. The way that move has played out over the course of this year has proven to me that it was not a good one. He never really made the impact that we had expected him to and by the end of the summer he was nothing more than an expensive bench warmer.

Areas to improve for 09: Build around Conor Casey on offense, find some consistent play in the midfield by either trading Gomez away for a better offensive midfielder. Sign a defensive midfielder to replace Pablo Mastroeni (he’s good as gone there). And maybe sign a solid keeper because I don’t think either option right now is cutting it.

Outlook for 09: It all depends on who the coach ends up being. Should they go for John Spenser after the season than I expect this team will take a very different shape. They are good enough offensively with the young players in place to make things happen in the west but its just so inconsistent due to coaching that lead Colorado where they are at today.

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FC Dallas (36 pts., eliminated in week 30)

What went wrong in 2008: Similar to Colorado but not nearly as bad was the Hoops consistency. They’d go stretches with solid play and then stretches with terrible play. The biggest though was dropping so many games in a draw due to late goals. At least five (if not six) of their ties this year were due to late goals scored in the 80th minute or later. That’s a good 15 points dropped, most of them at home. The difference between five and 15 points is a big one in this league.

Where it all went wrong: The whole mess with firing Steve Morrow. Still wondering if that was even the best move the club could have made at that point in time. During that time the club went a horrendous 2-7-5 from April 24 until the All-Star break.

When things went right: Anytime Cooper scored the club played well. Once Hyndman got his system in place things looked good for a couple weeks (blame injuries for ending the run early).

Best moves made: Getting Jeff Cunningham for next to nothing from Toronto. It was the least they could do for handing over Abdus Ibrahim in the same fashion to the Reds. Cunningham looked alive for the first time in a number of years.

Worst move made: Most will say signing Dullio Davino, and to which I do agree. He’s too slow for the MLS game.

Areas to improve for 09: First of all they have to keep Cooper, but aside from that they have to continue to build that defense up. They have some hope but Hyndman needs to find some jewels in a trade or elsewhere abroad. Plus getting a solid playmaker in the midfield would certainly help that defense.

Outlook for 09: Again, it all rests on keeping Cooper. This club has plenty of great, young talent that can contend. They just need the goals scoring machine that is Kenny Cooper to be apart of it. I figure they will hit the trade market and dump a couple players this winter while they search over seas for a few additions.

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Toronto FC (35 pts., eliminated in week 30)

What went wrong in 2008: Lack of consistent forward play all season long. All the international duty on this roster. And of course the FieldTurf at BMO Field.

Where it all went wrong: Their first home loss. Yup, that’s what did it because from then on they weren’t playing with the same intensity that they once were at BMO Field. It wasn’t the same fortress that they had made it into when they lost that game in early July to Vancouver in the Canadian qualifier for the CCL. From then on the wheels were off and it was all down hill.

When things went right: Early on this looked like a playoff club. They were fun to watch on all sides of the ball and really looked like a contender.

Best moves made: Chad Barrett and Abdus Ibrahim. Best young talent that this club has.

Worst move made: Carlos Ruiz. Wow, what a waste. Signing Laurent Robert and Olivier Tebily weren’t that great either.

Areas to improve for 09: Signing a DP-level striker for one. Getting a defensive midfielder to finally replace Maurice Edu. And maybe a defender or three.

Outlook for 09: If they can use their money wisely this off-season they stand a great chance at making things happen in 2009. The grace period is over for the fans after two years anyways. With all that cash in the bank to spend on this club in the winter they have the ability to really make noise.

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San Jose Earthquakes (33 pts., eliminated in week 30)

What went wrong in 2008: Well, starting out the year with litterally no offense is a tough way to go. We all knew it would be a long tough road but early on it was very rough.

Where it all went wrong: Early on when the club went 1-6-1. Yeah, that’s a tough whole for anyone to climb out of in any season.

When things went right: The middle part of the year when they landed Darren Huckerby and made a slew of trades that really turned things around.

Best moves made: Signing Huckerby, trading for Arturo Alvarez and Scott Sealy were some of the moves that really worked.

Worst move made: Eh, maybe not signing a solid striker until July. Other than that it has to be wasting the top allocation spot to sign Peguero Jean-Philippe. Boy that turned out great.

Areas to improve for 09: Offense and in the middle of the park. Signing a top-flight striker will go a long way to help the young stars around this club. Also a solid playmaker in the midddle of the field and a defensive midfielder wouldn’t hurt. But mainly they will need to sign a striker or three.

Outlook for 09: Its promising and this club has the chance to be even more competitive than in 2008. That’s saying something for a club that had to start from stratch.

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LA Galaxy (33 pts., eliminated in week 30)

What went wrong in 2008: A terrible defense, playing in front of a terrible keeper, playing behind a very overrated midfield led to the league’s worst record (if you factor GD in the mix, if not they tied with San Jose for the worst).

Where it all went wrong: The lovely 0-6-6 stretch over the summer months and into September.

When things went right: There was a time early on that the Galaxy looked great with Beckham assisting Donovan and Buddle all day long. It was nice until the summer hit and Donovan went away for US games and Beckham went across the pond to England for their games.

Best moves made: Getting Eddie Lewis at the end of the year. I love that move for the future of this club.

Worst move made: Too many to list. Hiring Ruud Gullit. Not waiving Abel Xavier at the start of the campaign. Signing Eduardo Dominguez (yeah that turned out well). The biggest though was probably trading away Joe Cannon.

Areas to improve for 09: Defense, defense, defense. Oh and a defensive midfielder and another striker with Donovan bolting.

Outlook for 09: Bruce Arena has a lot of work and I mean a lot of work to do this winter. This club has more work than any other club out there this winter in fact. Next year can’t come soon enough for the other teams on this list but for the Galaxy they need the time inbetween to fix the mess.

  • Dave

    One thing about your comments on TFC. Getting a DM to replace Edu? We have Robinson who was always better then Edu, and still is better then Edu when it comes to playing DM. If Robinson leaves, then yes, we need a new DM, if he stays, then that may be one area where we're actually set.

  • Dave

    One thing about your comments on TFC. Getting a DM to replace Edu? We have Robinson who was always better then Edu, and still is better then Edu when it comes to playing DM. If Robinson leaves, then yes, we need a new DM, if he stays, then that may be one area where we’re actually set.