This past weekend saw two MLS teams parting ways with their managers: Teitur Thordarson of the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Chicago Fire’s Carlos de los Cobos.
The moves happened within 24 hours of each other, but otherwise seem to make sense. Both teams are currently at the bottom of the tables in their respective divisions with seemingly no end in sight to their struggles. If sacking the manager is indeed the solution for MLS woes, could Steve Nicol be the next to go?In the Fire’s case, the team has stated that they were in need of a "fresh start". That fresh start, they are hoping, will be in the form of interim coach Frank Klopas.
"The decision isn’t something that happened in one day or two days," Klopas said. "It’s something that involves many different things, and we just felt at the moment that we had to make a decision for the good of the team."-Sam Stejskal on MLSsoccer.com
Thordarson’s situation looks to be much of the same, though Real Salt Lake manager Jason Kreis spoke out against the Whitecaps’ decision, calling it "shocking" and "appalling", there can be reason to believe that there was need for a change after such a disappointing start to the season.
Benjamin Massey of 86 Forever points out that this departure has been met with consistent negative reaction, which can make moving forward even more difficult if things don’t turn around in a more immediate way. But does negative reaction imply a poor decision? It may be too early to tell.
Here New England, one has to ask if this is also a foreseeable option for the Revolution if things don’t turn around. Currently Vancouver is in 9th place in the West with a 1-6-7 record after 13 games, while Chicago is in 8th in the Eastern Conference with a record of 1-4-6 in 11 games, just 4 points less than the Revs who occupy 6th place. Although the Revs have a better record, by comparison, most supporters would argue that they haven’t had the best start this season either.
Do the recent MLS firings bring to light our own managerial issues with Steve Nicol?
The two situations presented are examples of how such a change can be embraced and rejected by the team and supporters. Without being able to note any actual results or on-field improvement, it’s obviously hard to say whether the teams are in fact better after these decisions.
Coach Nicol has been with the club since 2002, bringing them to the playoffs for 8 straight seasons and to the MLS cup four times. This is a bit of a different situation than those of de los Cobos and Thordarson who have been with their clubs since 2010 and 2008 respectively. But nevertheless, when a team struggles the way the Revs have so far, something has to be said for the managerial staff and whether a change could be a logical move.
Either way, the next moves that the Revs do make will be the key. If the team can make use of the talent that they’ve brought in so far this season and turn it into goals and, subsequently, points, then maybe there is no need for a change at all. On the other hand, if the attacking third continues to struggle, with or without the highly-anticipating DP signing this summer, and if the points continue to slip away, then maybe parting ways with Nicol is just the sort of "fresh start" that we need as well.