If we here at The Bent Musket had to choose one word to sum up the New England Revolution right about now it would be gloom. The fanbase is ripe with disappointment, upset with the on-field product. The players aren’t meeting expectations, and dreams of playoff soccer are slowly fading in the rearview mirror.
All hope is not lost, though, as the Revs will face FC Dallas in the Open Cup final on a to-be-determined date. However, the elephant in the room must be addressed: Should Jay Heaps be fired as New England’s head coach? He has been at the helm since the 2012 season and led the Revs to the 2014 MLS Cup, but is he the right man for the job?
There have been summer swoons aplenty in Revs-land, the Jermaine Jones saga marred nearly two seasons of elite play and club-favorite Charlie Davies was recently traded away. Not all of that is Heaps’ fault, of course, so The Bent Musket has offered several takes on Heaps’ future. The balls in your court, fans. We want to hear your reactions, too.
Jake C. – What exactly is Plan B?
Okay, if you want to fire Jay Heaps at this point, that's fine. I don't think that's a wrong opinion to have. But who are you going to get to replace him? Is Tom Soehn going to be the guy for the rest of 2016 because I don't think that changes the Revs' fortunes for a deep playoff run in November.
The Revs have a coaching problem but it's not Jay Heaps. It's the fact that Heaps has half the staff to run a team compared to most MLS coaching staffs. Heaps has himself, top assistant Soehn and keeper coach Remi Roy. That's it. While most teams have an additional 2-3 assistant coaches, and even if those guys are tied to USL B teams, it's still coaches that are at practice, compiling scouting reports, watching game film, etc. That's 2-3 extra sets of eyes and brains to help make adjustments, watch specific players during the game and give the coach feedback from practice and at halftime.
You want Heaps out? Fine, but the new guy is going to be in the same situation as right now and playing catch up with a roster that he hasn't built over the last four years. I'd rather stick it out with Heaps for the rest of the season, or until the Revs are out of playoff contention/the USOC. This also is a team that for the most part hasn't been playing bad soccer all the time, but they certainly should have more goals and points then they do now.
Seth – It should be assessed at the end of the season
This might seem like a cop-out answer, but I'm simply not a fan of changing a coach midseason. This is especially true if there isn't a replacement lined up. Firing Heaps now would be the equivalent of throwing up the white flag on the season and there's just too much soccer left to play.
As a result, I would like to see Heaps, a club legend who coached the Revs to their first MLS Cup appearance since 2007, stay at the helm. MLS is so volatile that a good run can drastically change the public's opinion. If the club can sure up the defense and recapture some of the magic they had in previous seasons then playoffs are likely and who knows what happens after that. Plus, the Revs are already one game away from lifting the U.S. Open Cup trophy.
That said, this season hasn't been good. More than that, there have been several disappointing trends that have emerged under Heaps, including the annual summer swoon. I'm not against the idea of sacking Heaps, but do think it's something that should be looked at during the off-season instead of now.
Jon – Heaps isn’t the Revs’ biggest problem
Right off the bat, I am in full agreement with the fanbase's sentiment that the Revs are woefully underperforming. The young core media members raved about – Diego Fagundez, Andrew Farrell, Juan Agudelo, Scott Caldwell and Kelyn Rowe – aren't producing as many expected. And for clarification purposes, that level is of the national team variety. Furthermore, this team has three top-tier veterans – at least in MLS terms – in Lee Nguyen, Jose Goncalves and Kei Kamara. They're not playing like it, at least not consistently.
With all that established, firing Heaps isn't the answer right now. There's still the Open Cup trophy to vie for, and amidst a ridiculous format where six teams from the Eastern Conference get into the playoffs, there's always a chance to nab the last spot at the final hour. Should the Revs lose in the Open Cup final and fail to make the playoffs, it's entirely reasonable that Heaps' standing be reconsidered. After all, such a process would unfold within any club across the planet.
What must be said, though, is that the Revs' problems lay far deeper than a coaching issue. Gillette Stadium is the elephant in the room that's perpetually unaddressed, and players often voice they won't play on its turf. This team needs a stadium in Boston, and it needed that stadium yesterday. To the folks who question how committed the Krafts are, I hear you. But to say the Krafts don't care is blasphemy. They went out and got Xavier Kouassi as a Designated Player, but nobody could have ever predicted he'd tear his ACL. Also, it's not the Krafts' fault the players are underperforming.
Now that I've offered a (possibly) unnecessarily long answer to a simple question, I'll voice my response in simple terms: Jay Heaps should not be fired. The sky isn't falling on the Revs, but if this vein of form continues, Heaps is undoubtedly on the hot seat. The players must start producing results, too. The talent is there.