Tonight's Forecast: "Tears Shall Drown the Wind"
A few scattershot links before I reach my main point. First, it's going to rain tonight. We play better in the rain, except for those times we don't.
Second, Commenter Bootsy sent us this link to Charles Boehm's blog, in which there might be some dissatisfaction expressed by the Ownership at the state of things:
Principal owner-investor Victor MacFarlane was on hand at the announcement of the VW partnership at RFK Stadium on Tuesday morning, and his enthusiasm about the deal was tempered by noticeable dissatisfaction with his team’s performances.
“I’m not happy. We need to do much better on the field,” said the San Francisco-based real estate magnate. “The team needs to come together – we have the talent necessary, the team needs to gel and start delivering.”
And also a link to Booked for Dissent, where another critique of Tom Soehn is made (and made very well) but also contains an coda with which I am in complete disagreement:
But for all that, those of you calling for Soehn to be fired immediately should stop it. This is an organization that has never technically fired a coach (Rongen’s contract wasn’t renewed, and Hudson’s third-year option wasn’t picked up). And for all the talk at the United-Volkswagen press conference today about the importance both “brands” place on “tradition,” I don’t see them breaking away from any of that in the near future.
First, let me say that while I agree with pretty much everything else that Dave wrote, I am in utter disagreement with the ideas in his last sentences, so unfairly that's the only part I quoted. If you listen to the VW press conference (which Lifton nicely has put on-line for you, and I did listen to) he's right that a lot of talk about "brands" and "management" was invoked. However, more important to me was the statement, once again, that D.C. United's mission is "to win championships and serve the community." That's our tradition. We didn't put up a banner on DCUnited.Com with the word "tradition" next to a picture of Ray Hudson not getting a pink slip. We put that word surrounded by a bunch of trophies. Our tradition is about winning and community involvement, not some management practice. If it looks like 2008 is a lost season because of Tom Soehn, I don't see United's ownership just letting it happen simply because they never fired a coach before.
Now, that being said, I'm not calling on Tom Soehn to be fired. Yet. But I can see a time where it might have to happen, and I'd prefer it happen earlier in the season than later. And yes, I have a name in mind for at least a caretaker coach who could earn the job (and no, it's not Bruce Arena, but I've had this idea and talked it out with someone, and at least they didn't think I was crazy, even though I thought I might be. And no, I'm not telling you yet, because right now is not the time, but it's someone you know.) Still, if United underperforms tonight against Chicago, and in a week and a half against Chivas, could I see myself finally succumbing to the Fire Soehn commentary? Yes. It would require two dismal performances, but I'll be honest, it's something I've thought about.
If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly. A new coach would need to have some time to impose their ideas to turn the team around. A new coach might deserve some time to make a move before any transfer deadlines. And most of all, losing is a habit that gets harder to break.
So if we haven't fired Tom Soehn by Match 14, and the season is gloomy, then let's write the season off and move forward. But if it might make a difference, let's do it sooner rather than later.
UPDATE-3PM: Lifton responds to the post above that, as he says, "ripps him a new one" (the extra "p" means there was more power in the ripping). He says that our post...
...overlooks a major aspect of why United has a tradition, the way Kevin Payne does business. He is far too loyal to discard a coach so quickly (does 2001 ring a bell?), and would undoubtedly go to the wall for Soehn. I don’t see that changing so quickly.
I don’t know the terms of Soehn’s contract, but my guess is that it’s for two years with an option. That seems to be the standard. By virtue of his record last year, as well as his success as an assistant here, Soehn deserves to at least finish out this year before a decision on the option year is made.
I'm sympathetic to half of this argument. I do believe that Soehn has earned some margin of error. I believe that everyone can earn a bad season. The problem was the way this season has been positioned - as a year to really take on the international responsiblities. Failing to retake the Supporter's Shield doesn't bother me much. Failing to be competitive in our league matches while waiting for our next shot at international play? That does bother me. That being said, if United executives come out and say "Tommy's earned this for the remainder of the year" -- well, I could live with that.
However, the other part of Lifton's argument doesn't hold water for me. Loyalty is a fine thing, a noble thing, but loyalty that leads to disaster is not a virtue, it is pigheadedness. It is a form of willful stupidity. Kevin Payne is not a stupid man. He makes mistakes, but he learns from them.