Early Daily Sweeper: Arena Means the Coaching Carousel Is Swingin’

Holy crap, things are moving quickly today!

As I started my web-trawling, what’s the first thing I see? A “rumor” that Head Coach, Technical Director Bruce Arena got canned by Red Bull New York, one that Sports Illustrated picked off Soccer by Ives, again, a source I don’t feel like publishes stories lightly. So…Arena’s gone from NYC. Hm. I know I’m not the only wondering if Arena will make his way to Los Angeles. I’m not saying I would hire the man, but…still…who else will they get? Who else can LA get?

OK, one more thing: wouldn’t it be super-killer and four-times-funny if Jurgen Klinsmann took over with Red Bull? Now that, folks, is 100% raw, half-comical speculation; don’t take it anywhere near a bank or they might shoot you on principle. But the Arena to LA thing – I think that’s at least something to watch for…even if I can’t see Arena doing it.

One has to wonder, at this point, where Arena’s coaching-cred stands. The subtle tinge of controversy – here, I’m thinking the real-or-imagined spat between Juan Pablo Angel and Arena – recalled his semi-bitter firing from, or rather the decision to let his contract run out for, the U.S. coaching job. So, seriously, where will Arena go from here? Nowhere – aka retiring – seems possible, but I can’t see that either. What about a position in Colorado? Whatever his reputation, Arena looks to be one hell of a wild card for this off-season.

Getting back to the other coaching change – e.g. Frank Yallop – The Bigs (the soccer MSM) are already plugging in some gaps. Sports Illustrated’s Jonah Freedman describes Yallop’s move as a “face-saving” way for everyone now and previously associated with LA to move forward. Jeff Carlisle’s Yallop-clocker for ESPN analyzes the move from a more practical, what-does-it-and-did-it-all-mean perspective.

I suspect I’ll be spinning my wheels on this one all day. I’ll add to this one if I see something that makes us all smarter.

UPDATE: The New York Times’ Goal blog posted something on Arena containing two noteworthy additions to the story. Citing “a number of reports” Goal reports that Arena was fired, as opposed to resigning. The second item is a curiosity: why, as the report suggests, would MLS officials be “worried” that Arena might find work as a television analysts. I know his nasal drawl drives my wife insane – she thinks he sounds…well, best not go into that; feelings might be hurt – but I don’t see why Arena condemning the league on TV matters in the grand scheme.

UPDATE II: As one would expect, Soccer by Ives is following the Arena canning fairly closely and has posted some great updated material.  First, a post about Claudio Reyna’s  future – interesting in its own right – mentions a “falling out” between Reyna and Arena some time during the year – which begs the question of why every last single one of us didn’t know; these guys are famous (well, semifamous) and, hence, have no right or expectation of privacy.  An earlier post considers where The Bruce’s coaching talents met Red Bull management’s expectations for success.

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Yallop Ditches Star-Struck Team

I don’t often “go to press” – e.g. post on the fly – just because I see a big thing ambling down the pike (though, yes, I’m a on-his-back whore for rumors). But with ESPN reporting with faith in “multiple sources” that Frank Yallop will step down as head coach of Los Angeles Galaxy, there’s just too much juice in play. Then again, it’s not often that I’m trolling soccer sites at 10 p.m. PST on a Sunday.

The first question, of course, is why? I remember reading pieces as recently as last week talking up Yallop’s plans for next season. This raises great following questions such as, what did San Jose offer (whoops; that’s where Yallop looks like he’s headed; sorry, didn’t mention that)? More significantly, from where I sit at least, why the brave face? Why does Yallop pretend he’s going to stay around? Better still, was he planning on staying around until the very next offer came his way – which only gets back to the question of what San Jose offered.

All those questions aside – e.g. best still – does this mean Los Angeles Galaxy General Manager Alexi Lalas will be on board for another season? If so, that would be enough to make me leave if I were Yallop.

At this point – e.g. looking at a rumor that looks solid; ESPN doesn’t usually run something unless it’s pretty safe – two thoughts sit squarely in front of my brain. First, I can’t wait to see the “whys” of this one sort out. Second, assuming this is true – because, yes, this could explode in my over-eager face by tomorrow morning – I can’t wait to see LA play San Jose next season. Those are going to be rip-shit affairs.

Good night. And good luck, Frank. You got a raw deal in LA.

DS, 10.31: Coaching Theory, Playoff Theory + Playoff Strategery

First of all, Happy Halloween. From what my wife tells me, I’m taking the kids trick-or-treating as a nun, so, yeah, I kinda have to get drunk. Dang it.

Oh, and I think I’ve got to get over shoving every subject under discussion into the title; that’s what tags are for, right? This frees me up to reuse the title “Daily Sweeper,” which, I believe anyway, implies a grab-bag of topics. Are we in agreement? Disagreement? Are you hungry too? I’m craving grease like a hungover pregnant lady…perhaps even a nun. Crap…where am I? Oh yeah.

– Apart from revealing himself to be a nice fella (through his reluctance to ask hunted coaches about their job security), USSoccerplayas.com Ian Plenderleith closed his column on La Vida Coacha with an interesting theory as to why a guy like, say, Sigi Schmid still has a job:

“The Crew is probably not sticking with Schmid because they’re in love with his coaching methods, but because there’s no one else around that could take his place. That’s not the best reason to retain a coach, but if you’re a club executive and the list of alternatives begins with, say, Bob Gansler at the top, you’ve probably no choice but to either keep the man you have, or submit to a prolonged bout of weeping.”

It’s an interesting thought. And it could explain why Frank Yallop feels more optimistic about continuing his mortgage payments in Southern California (wade past all the Chivas’ stuff; it’s in there), or why, in spite of multiple columns criticizing his competence and enthusiasm for his job, Bruce Arena still wears that, um…Tomcat Smirk (trying to come up with a phrase analogous to Chesire Smile, but one that actually matches The Bruce’s permanent expression).

On the other hand, I don’t see the limits to the coaching pool Plenderleith sees in the paragraph that follows the one above. A pool exists between former players and even coaches “tainted” by the college game. None of these will be sure-shots by any means, but the conceptual knowledge will be there. When it comes to managing players’ egos, training them well (enough), and fielding the right players in the right places, a fella will either have it or he won’t; a number of these guys will tank, naturally, but how’s that so different from the “name” guy already pulling the team down into the bowl with them? What the hell, right? Roll the dice. It’s a gamble, but you can’t win if you don’t play.

UPDATE: Longshoe makes this same point only better over on Who Ate All the Cupcakes.  It’s worth checking out.

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MLS Coaches’ Listings (e.g. Endangered, Threatened, etc.)

With it looking a whole lot like no current head coach in Major League Soccer (MLS) will lose their job by the end of the year, now seems a good time to look at who might suffer the fatal blow after the(ir respective team’s) season ends. Coming after the season, this is less a “hot seat” phenomenon than a coup de grace for a career that sloughed its mortal coil at some point in the season. The transitional nature of the off-season, when re-tooling represents a norm of sorts, might even expand the pool of candidates for the sack. For what it’s worth, I think it should; if I worked a front office, I’d certainly mull over a new direction – especially if an early exit from, or missing the playoffs altogether, afforded a little more time for such considerations.

Before getting into potential candidates for “spending more time with their families,” I’ll start by listing the coaches whose tenures seem safe: Tom Soehn (DC United); Dominic Kinnear (Houston Dynamo); Preki (Chivas USA); Juan Carlos Osorio (Chicago Fire); Bruce Arena (Red Bull New York); Jason Kreis (Real Salt Lake). Yeah, I know: Jason Kreis? I’m fairly confident he’ll get more time – e.g. one year at least to build his team – before being judged against his record. As for the rest, call those 100%, dead certain. (DISCLAIMER: barring changes in health (e.g. heart attack), lifestyle (e.g. becoming trans-gender), social sanity (e.g. saying in a public space “’Minority A’ makes me uncomfortable.”)

By now, you may picked up on some curious omissions from the above. As I see it, the realm of possibility should be pretty roomy (though, clearly, not roomy enough to include Kreis). Put another way, five games to go (give or take) means changes in circumstance remain relevant.

With that in mind, I have listed the remaining MLS coaches below flagging each as either “watch-list,” “threatened,” or “endangered” (can’t imagine the inspiration for that one). In the comments, I’ll get to details like how a given coach can move from the watch-list to threatened status and why I think this coach or that is endangered. And, so, going from the least at-risk population to the most: Continue reading

Daily Sweeper, 09.04: Ticking Clocks; Lotsa Open Cup (+ Blasphemy); Yallop’s Lifeline(?); St. Louis Update…Gasp!

– I’ll lead with a doozy of a concept. A Houston Chronicle article on the local team’s recent staggers pointed out that said local team has only SIX regular season games remaining. Nah, I said. Then I checked the standings. Holy crap. The same applies to Kansas City. It’s crunch-time, people. Good stuff.

– The semifinals for the Lamar Hunt Head-On/Activ-On U.S. Open Cup (LHH-OA-OUSOC) go down tonight – but all y’all knew that, of course, and planned accordingly. I know what I’m doing tonight (unless the wife says otherwise…yes, dear) and will duly prime myself with previews from both games:

FC Dallas v. Seattle Sounders
MLSnet.com
US Open Cup unofficial site
Nice bit from FC Dallas Updates – especially the crack about Seattle humidity

New England Revolution v. Carolina RailHawks
MLSnet.com
US Open Cup unofficial site

By time of posting, the New England/Carolina game should be close to underway – so I’ll be missing that one – but the Seattle/Dallas Super-Epic-o will air online tonight. Huzzah! I would live blog the game, but…well, I’m not sure how it’s done – on a practical level, I mean. That’s to say, I have an approach in mind – e.g. watch the game and write comments, posting them as they come to me – but that seems like such a pain in the ass. Is that how people do live-blogging when they do it?

Anyway, I’ll probably do my usual thing, wife and kids allowing – e.g. “Brain-Dead Blogging,” where I write down a bunch of crap in a whiskey-juiced haze and foist it on all y’all later. Continue reading