On Sept, 19, the New England Revolution fired longtime coach Jay Heaps and I believe it was the wrong decision. Yes, Heaps deserved to be sacked but doing it with five games left in the season didn’t benefit anyone.
Short of an epic run, the Revs were out of the playoffs when Heaps was shown the door. This made the final games a formality and gave interim coach Tom Soehn little to achieve. This is too bad for Soehn, who has expressed interest in returning as the team’s permanent head coach.
Furthermore, the change didn’t help many players. These final games could’ve been used as an opportunity to showcase young players, putting them in the shop window before an off-season that will surely bring change. Instead, Soehn leaned on the same players as Heaps. We have seen some exceptions, like the return of Chris Tierney and a more prominent role for Benjamin Angoua, but the general tactics have been the same.
Since no individual or group benefited from the ouster of Heaps, I would’ve liked to see him finish the season.
In my ideal scenario, Heaps would’ve held a press conference after the disastrous road trip in which the Revs were bested 7-0 by Atlanta United FC and 3-1 by Sporting KC. Heaps would’ve shown humility, taking full responsibility for the losses and expressing his own frustrations with the current state of the Revs. He would go on to highlight how much this club means to him. Finally, he would announce that he was going be stepping aside at the end of the season.
The press conference would serve as a good reminder of all that Heaps has done for the club. Whether he was on the field, in the booth, or perched on the sidelines, Heaps has always wanted what’s best for the Revs. Allowing him to leave on his own terms would’ve been a classy move by the organization.
It would’ve also allowed the fans to say goodbye. Many supporters wanted Heaps out by September but most of the same people gave tributes once he was gone. Why not let both parties say a proper goodbye to one another?
My fan fiction plays out this like: After announcing he will be resigning at the end of the season, Heaps wins at home against NYCFC to break the record for most home wins in club history—a record he deserved. After the game he goes over to the fans and asks for the megaphone. He thanks them and apologies for never winning an MLS Cup. He says he will miss being in front of them each and ever week. Before he goes, though, he has one more thing to do: Beat Montreal on the road.
This scenario gives the end of the season purpose. It’s a redemption tour for Heaps. It’s a chance for him to write his own ending and say goodbye to the fans.
After saying all of that, I need to note that I think Heaps should’ve been fired mid-season because it would’ve given the interim coach a chance to turn things around. Since that didn’t happen, it was wrong to fire the club legend with so few games left to play. The decision hurt Heaps’ legacy and didn’t benefit those still with the club.
I guess soccer is a cruel business.