Tactical Flexibility a Curse for Soehn?
Tom Soehn’s tenure as DC United manager has seen the Red and Black win the Supporters Shield, advance to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions Cup and are on the doorstep of making the MLS playoffs and CONCACAF knock out rounds.
But Soehn’s player management have been from my vantage point, the absolute worst in the league since he took over as coach in the beginning of the 2007 season. Despite having one of the league’s best personnel minds in Kevin Payne, as well as a rabid supporter’s base, Sohen has made one mistake after another.
The lack of patience the manager has shown for players, and a lack of willingness to continue to play DCUs traditional style through rough patches are in particular sore spots.
In the history of this league, only one team has had a clear identity from the late 1990s until today: it is united. The 3-5-2 system mixed with some Latin playmaking flair and the quality of ball winners in midfield have made united the gold standard in the league.
In a week when the league’s commissioner is presenting to the world of football why exactly MLS has been the most financially unaffected world sporting league by the current global economic downturn, and how MLS has become arguably the most competitive and compelling football around, the league’s signature franchise continues to have questions around it.
Perhaps it is the hyper-competitive nature of MLS that has made DCU slip from the summit of the league mountain. Maybe it is this pressure that has forced Soehn to constantly juggle between a 4-4-2, 3-5-2, 4-4-1-1 and 4-2-2-2 over the past two seasons, while constantly shuffling players in and out of the lineup.
Perhaps it is this pressure that leads Soehn to throw players under the bus often. After all, the expectations around United are massive, as it is the club with the most developed supporter’s culture in the league and the longest term media presence as well.
One thing is painfully obvious: Tom Soehn is over his head as the coach of United. Perhaps his temperament and temptation to experiment would serve him well with another MLS side, but the red and black are not the laboratory for experimenting.
Costa Rica’s shock 2-0 win over host Egypt at the U-20 World Cup serves as a reminder to what the hyper talented US U-20 team could have done had they qualified for the knock out stages. Costa Rica edged the US for the final spot in the second round based on goals scored since both were minus three in goal difference.
The USL vs TOA situation continues to unfold. As many media outlets have reported, the USSF has intervened and is holding meetings this week with both parties as well as with MLS/Don Garber to try and find a solution. On my personal site, I am reporting that the possibility of a breakaway league that works with USL in a fashion like how the Premier League interacts with the FA/Football League in the England is now a possible solution.