Earlier this morning came the news that DC United coach Tom Soehn would not seek to extend his current contract with the team. Set to expire at the end of this year, Soehn will instead leave the club he has been a part of for the past six seasons – three years as an assistant and three as the head coach. In all competitions in his three years in charge, Soehn compiled a W-L-T record of 55-48-31. Major accomplishments include the Supporters Shield in 2007 and the US Open Cup in 2008.
Contrary to what some are writing, Tom Soehn was not fired by the club. Instead, he will not seek to stay beyond his current contact. After the final game of the season, DC United President and CEO Kevin Payne indicated that any offer to Soehn to return in 2010 as coach would be evaluated over the following month. Without the assurances from management that he would get a contract extension, Soehn appears to have taken the first step toward other opportunities. With the announcement of his leaving, Payne wished Soehn all the best in his future endeavors.
Tom Soehn took a great deal of criticism from the media and supporters of DC United over the past year. The Red and Black’s failure to qualify for the MLS Cup playoffs was the latest example of the club underachieving in 2009. Soccer expectations are always high in our nation’s capital, where reaching the finals of the US Open Cup and coming a goal away from qualifying for the CONCACAF Champions League knockout round were not considered enough. Soehn was roundly condemned for his line-up and substitution decisions over the course of 2009, despite dealing with an aging roster, numerous injuries, and a brutal schedule (by MLS standards) of 42 games. His tactics were rightfully criticized, but his dedication to the club cannot be ignored.
As announced by DC United, General Manager Dave Kasper begins the search for a new head coach today – maybe Richie Williams should keep his phone handy – in preparation for the 2010 season. As for Kasper’s thoughts on Tom Soehn, “He is a bright young coach who has a big career ahead of him. I wish him continued success with his next coaching position and his family the best of luck always.” Good luck, indeed.