08 June 2006

SAMPSON AGAIN: The Belly thinks that Steve Sampson had plenty enough time to get himself fired. I can't disagree with the facts of his argument, and we just a different opinion as to what the facts merit. He may be right -- as they say in the legal profession: "Bad cases make bad law". Sampson had turned in an awful enough performance to merit a firing, but I still think that as a defending champ, you should be allowed a full title defense, and until you're done, you should stay around. Eleven games don't count. But that's more a matter of principle, not a practical application. Practically, firing Sampson to gain Yallop makes a great deal of sense. I just find it uncomfortable when the same might be applied to another coach, much more worthy of time than Sampson.

If nothing else, perhaps we can all agree on this: Alexi Lalas is a tool.

MORE with Mike H. at My Soccer Blog, where he sides with the Belly, and also checks into the comments below. Believe me, defending Steve Sampson is an odd situation, but there you have it.


At 08 June, 2006 16:16, Anonymous brian said...

"If nothing else, perhaps we can all agree on this: Alexi Lalas is a tool."


Why is he such a "catch" for a team's front office? Has he done anything of note anywhere he has worked?

At 08 June, 2006 16:41, Anonymous Oscar M said...

"but I still think that as a defending champ, you should be allowed a full title defense,"

Is that how you got through the Rongen 2000 era? If you're team can't perform over 11 games it doesn't matter what you did the previous season.

At 08 June, 2006 21:47, Blogger Mike H said...

Hello D,

I must say, I don't really understand your argument. Is it because Lalas said publicly that he was not planning on firing Sampson that he is a tool?

As I said over at my little place on the web, managers always say their coach is not getting fired till they fire them. Actually, it seems that the more times they publicly say they are not going to fire them, the getter their chances of fire them.

As far as Sampson defending his crown, he had a third of a season to show he could. Is that enough time? That's an individual decision. I think that if they had shown good play, but still lost, then give him some more time, but that is not what LA has done. They have been lacking everywhere, all season, except for a two matches where Landon decided to turn in on.

All this said, maybe Lalas is a tool, but I don't think firing Sampson is the proof.

At 08 June, 2006 21:58, Blogger D said...


Let me try it like this. There are ways of saying nothing, of leaving your options open. This is actually something Lalas apparently invoked 24 hours before firing Sampson, when he said "Any changes that we make are designed to improve us and make us better." There, that's a way of keeping it open. But the fact is that the situation was bad when he arrived, and then publicly supported Sampson. Two weeks later he had time to get a feel for things, and he again supported Sampson. Only when it became politically expedient for him to change his mind did he invoke the "I have to do what I have to do in order to win" argument. If he had used that phrase from the start, all would have been fine. Instead he put his word out there for Sampson, and yanked it away when he felt the heat. That's cowardly. That's lame. That's what people without a strong sense of integrity do.

Now, personally, I feel like Steve had earned a full season to not make the playoffs, but that's just me. And presented with the opportunity to switch Steve for Frank Yallop, I might well have pulled the trigger. Again, that's a personal choice issue. I give out more rope. My real anger with Alexi is that he didn't have to lie to people, but he did anyways because it sounded better at the time. This is a pattern with him, a pattern you won't find with other MLS executives, because they know their word means something so they are more careful to keep their options open, and only give the voice of support when absolutley necessary. That way it has meaning and value. If Kevin Payne goes to bat for someone, I'll believe it. If Alexi does, well, we know what that's worth.

That make sense?

At 08 June, 2006 22:19, Anonymous mel said...

Have to say I'm with mike h.

In all American sports, the vote of confidence from management is a sure sign that a coach is treading on thin ice. They never tell the truth to the media about these things.

Until the coach is notified, the paperwork is processed and the guy is officially on the way out the door, to anyone who asks, "he's our coach and we have full confidence in him."

Why would you expect things to be different in soccer?

At 09 June, 2006 10:22, Anonymous Matt W said...

The other guys are right: the vote of confidence is a kiss of death. If only Lalas had had a press conference with Sampson and told him he was doing a heckuva job.

At 09 June, 2006 10:33, Blogger D said...

Okay, okay... I may be wrong on this one. But I'm definitively wrong!

At 09 June, 2006 15:28, Anonymous SE Podcast said...

I started to write my take on Sampson here, but then I figured I'd incorporate it into my match preview. You can find it here:



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