Seven or eight games into the season and teams begin to take a hard look at their position at the table. It’s still too early to declare teams out of the race especially with a 34 game schedule, but the table is beginning to shake out and as the next few weeks go by, teams that are underachieving find themselves farther and farther away from the playoffs or their team’s preseason goals. At this point, management takes a hard look at the head coach and tries to figure out if a new man would make a difference and inspire the team to go on a run.
So today let’s take a look at five head coaches who are starting to feel a little warm on the bench and should either be thinking about updating their resume or shaking up the lineup. Managers are ranked in order of how close they are to being unemployed by their current club, but feel free to vote in the poll and share your thoughts in the comments section:
5. Robert Warzycha, Columbus Crew: Early in the year, the heat was rising around Sigi Schmid’s former assistant as Warzycha had no place for Robbie Rogers, lost in the CONCACAF Champions League and looked impotent early in the season. A team record shutout streak and a nice undefeated streak later, the heat has been turned down immensely on Warzycha. Yet the team is walking a fine line – they are tied for the second fewest goals scored this year and their offense is still not clicking 100%. Adrés Mendoza is still not playing up to his DP contract and if the team’s defense falters, this team could find themselves sliding down the standings. For a franchise with such a storied history in a conference with only one dominant team, that would be unacceptable, so Warzycha is walking a fine line.
4. Steve Nicol, New England Revolution: The Liverpool legend and once-future USMNT head coach is someone I think could make the jump to England and manage a top-flight side in the near future. But currently his seat in Foxborough is getting a little toasty. The Revs are a team that have seen tough times in recent years after a great run in the beginning of last decade. With the addition of Benny Feilhaber, a scoring threat the team was seeking since the beginning of the season, they have the talent to compete for one of the three automatic playoff spots. But remember this team went through the process of a rebuild at the beginning of the year, and if they begin to falter management may begin to look in a new direction.
3. Peter Vermes, Sporting Kansas City: There are plenty of excuses for Sporting KC’s struggles, beginning with their extended road trip and obvious rebuilding effort. But don’t let the excuses cloud the way this team is playing right now – they have given up the third highest number of goals and have vacillated between terrible defense with potent offense and stout defense with lacking offense. Vermes is one of the new wave of MLS coaches who were the league’s first stars, and he may be one of the first ones to learn that being on the bench may come with more pressure than being on the field.
2. Frank Yallop, San Jose Earthquakes: The former MLS Coach of the Year is hitting hard times this season. Arguably a goal away from making the finals last year, the ‘Quakes have stumbled badly this year. Their offense is weak even with Wondo (they’ve scored the second fewest goals) and their last three results are arguably all bad losses (blown out by New York, beaten at home by Chivas, and 1-0 loss to 10-man Philadelphia). This team looks disorganized and it may take a new direction to right the ship.
1. Carlos de los Cobos, Chicago Fire: This is only the Mexican head coach’s second season, but the Fire are not showing any signs of hope. Last season they finished fourth in a weak East and this season, despite a quick start, they have begun a slide down the standings. The backline is reorganized practically every game, the team scores but leaks goals like a sieve, and there is no direction to the franchise. If Chicago can’t get results in their next two very winnable games, de los Cobos may be the first manager let go.