Panic Mode Settling In The East?

Panic Mode Settling In The East?

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On March 21, 2012
  • 2012 MLS Season, Ben Olsen, Features, Frank Yallop, Hans Backe, Peter Nowak, Robin Fraser

Looks like it could be a long year for Peter Nowak. (Getty Images)

I know folks like myself and other writers out there didn’t make this one easy going into the season. We all kept saying the Eastern Conference was the weaker side and how it would struggle against the West.

After two weeks of the new season, that statement rings true. Outside of Kansas City and Houston – who are both off to strong 2-0-0 starts – nearly everyone else in the East has stumbled out of the gate. I’ll ignore Chicago and Montreal for the moment too. The Fire have only played a single game and it was on the road while Montreal is an expansion team, and we can’t expect the world from them yet.

The same can go for Toronto FC and the Columbus Crew. The Trillium Cup rivals have both only played a single game in league play as well but neither were good in the process. Toronto has had two extra CCL games to their name which makes me want to leave them out of this discussion. Should their league play continue to be dreadful in a month or two, I’ll talk about it then. Columbus should bounce back in my mind this weekend as they host Montreal.

So that leaves the likes of the Philadelphia Union, D.C. United, the New York Red Bulls and the New England Revolution. All are 0-2-0 with negative goal differential.

Only New England has failed to score a goal out of the gate (they join Chivas USA who is the lowly Western Conference side to be 0-2-0 and score no goals) but I’m giving Jay Heaps a bit of a pass at this point.

Two teams have coaching issues going on (Philly and NY) while DC is struggling through some growing pains in Ben Olsen’s second full season as manager.

Only in towns like New York and LA do two losses raise such questions but with the Red Bulls those questions are being raised left and right. Consider what Hans Backe has done so far this season with his starting lineups. While on the road for both goals Backe made it down right tough on his star player Thierry Henry to get any sort of offense going. Yes, no Luke Rodgers or Rafa Marquez didn’t help the situation out but in neither Dallas or Salt Lake did the Red Bulls look really dangerous.

As for the Union. Things are sliding quickly out of control after Peter Nowak’s latest debacle involving Danny Califf. Nowak suddenly leaves Califf out of the line up due to a knee injury that was never really reported. Then the Union go on to lose a rare home game against a 10-man Colorado team. Fans are still feeling the burn of the preseason trade of Sebastien Le Toux as well. **

I haven’t done a coaching hot seat post yet but if I were do to one today Backe and Nowak would certainly be on it*. I do however think that Nowak has a little more leverage with the Union front office. He’s made every move for this club thus far and will continue to do so. I think it will take a massive collapse by his club to get him fired this season. As for Backe, lose two more games (both at home) and that hot seat will be burning.

So is panic mode setting in on these clubs? Maybe, it certainly is very early to tell but I would imagine most of the fans for these clubs aren’t feeling too comfortable about their club’s outlook today.

Where do you stand with your club today after two weeks? Feeling good about things or are you close to hitting the panic button?

* Others in consideration for this include Chivas USA manager Robin Fraser and San Jose manager Frank Yallop
** Apparently Califf and Nowak have resolved this situation. More on that soon.

    For the good of their teams, these are probably the two guys (Back and Nowak) most deserving of a hot seat right now, and who have few excuses for it other than their own failure to properly manage their sides. 

    Both did well to pilot their respective teams their first year on, but they seem to have regressed in terms of getting the most out of their resources. No excuses for these results, and I believe the teams have hit a ceiling with these guys at the helm (though I believe RBNY’s problems run deeper with its front office approach to the game; Nowak just seems like a more accomplished Preki, but that wears thin over time). I really don’t see much better from these teams this year – about the same for NY as last year, and worse for Philly, who seem weaker in all facets of the game. Houston looks more like last season’s Philly than the Union do at this point.

    Same for Columbus. Just don’t see them being able to jell this year. Toronto, even with Frings gone, I can see doing much better, once they can get their first-team players in place without having to worry about resting them from CCL matches. I think Winter’s got it down, and has the personnel.