When New York fired Bruce Arena as coach last year, owner Red Bull said its expectation for the team was nothing less than the MLS Cup title. On Tuesday, FC Dallas sprung an early-season surprise by dumping Steve Morrow with the Major League Soccer season just eight games old. Apparently, they don't feel like championship contenders. Since when did MLS teams with no honors to their name raise expectations so high?
"Anybody claiming to have Steve Morrow in their 'first to be fired' pool is going to need proof," writes J Hutcherson. FC Dallas may not have been firm favorite to take the title, and it may have suffered a heavy home defeat at the weekend in front of a rare capacity crowd, but it's still only one win off the top of the Western Conference. Yet the team's GM Michael Hitchcock talked about how it wasn't too late to come back "stronger, bigger, better, and contend for a championship," as though that wasn't possible for any team in a league with such a low-hanging playoff safety net.
"Repeating that the team has 'set very high standards' along with respect for the fans is all well and good, but there's an appearance/reality distinction that needs to be addressed," says Hutcherson. "Dallas won the Conference title in 2006 and exited the playoffs in the quarterfinals. They haven't advanced to the semifinals since 1999, so talk of pushing for an MLS Cup seems a bit off." It's natural that all teams should state their goal as winning the title, he adds. But when that goal seems beyond reach, then managing fan disappointment with a snap decision is a "bold move."