Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
The Challenge of Change: Where it's working, where not
by Ridge Mahoney, May 3rd, 2010 7:36PM

MOST READ
TAGS:  chivas usa, colorado rapids, columbus crew, d.c. united, fc dallas, houston dynamo, kansas city wizards, los angeles galaxy, mls, real salt lake, toronto fc

MOST COMMENTED

By Ridge Mahoney

Replacing a head coach, overhauling a roster, or both, are really the only ways a team can improve, but change in and of itself is no guarantee, as several struggling teams are proving this season.

In a few places, notably New York, the train is headed down the right track; not so for Toronto FC and D.C. United. Six weeks into the season is enough to draw some preliminary conclusions of how change has affected teams, with the proviso that good teams aren’t nearly so dependent on new ideas and new faces to facilitate success.

For this exercise Philadelphia, as an expansion team, is excluded. Here’s a rundown of which teams have wrought the most improvement through change, which have stayed the same, and which have mucked it up.

1. New York – The team that most needed drastic improvement is doing just that. Midfielder Joel Linpere, rookie defender Tim Ream, and striker Ibrahim Salou are obvious upgrades, yet ex-TFC veteran Carl Robinson is also contributing.

2. Kansas City – A bright start has fizzled a bit in three straight scoreless games. Goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen has looked the part, though his premature lunge last weekend allowed Luis Angel Landin to chip him for the first goal. Winger Ryan Smith has speed and guile, yet top prize may go to Stephane Auvray, who has some of the same traits and presence – if not the accomplishments -- of Shalrie Joseph.

3. Los Angeles – There wasn’t much to be fixed on the Galaxy, which topped the Western Conference and came within a penalty kick of winning the league title last year. Still, rookie midfielder Michael Stephens has stepped right in, and Coach Bruce Arena is getting good minutes from his trio of young Brazilians.

4. Colorado – There’s more bite and depth in midfield with ex-Revs Jeff Larentowicz and Wells Thompson, and so far, Marvell Wynne has done pretty well at centerback. The jury is still out on left back Danny Earls and Claudio Lopez has only played 13 minutes, which is 13 more than defender Oscar Murillo.

5. Houston – Jamaican midfielder Lovel Palmer will be valuable with Geoff Cameron sidelined by a knee injury, and rookie Stephen Appiah netted his first pro goal in the Dynamo’s 3-0 defeat of Kansas City last weekend. The pending addition of attacker Joseph Ngwenya is another positive.

6. San Jose – Rookie defender Ike Opara gives the Quakes more stability in the middle than they’ve had since re-joining MLS two years ago. Rookie right back Steve Beitashour is helping out, too. Brazilian forward Eduardo saw his first action last weekend and when fit Scott Sealy will further bolster the front line.

7. New England – Shipping out Thompson and Larentowicz to get defender Cory Gibbs and keeper Preston Burpo looks like a shrewd move with keeper Matt Reis sidelined until the summer. Rookie striker Zack Schilawski has scored four goals, three of them in one game.

8. Real Salt Lake – Nelson Gonzalez, Alvaro Saborio and Collen Warner all look like MLS-worthy upgrades, and their impact should grow as the season unfolds and more playing time becomes available.

9. Chivas USA – Defender Dario Delgado and midfielder Blair Gavin seem to be competent enough players, yet the defense doesn’t look as solid and the attack is sputtering. Maybe more time is needed to implement the wisdom of new head coach Martin Vasquez.

10. Columbus – Status quo for the Crew is working well enough. Once games start piling up its depth will be tested and Emilio Renteria may be used to take some of the burden off Guillermo Barros Schelotto.

11. Seattle – The Sounders can’t be blamed for standing pat, but so far David Estrada has played only two games and Miguel Montano hasn't been needed. Pat Noonan is a good guy to have around. Still, the defense isn’t what it was last year.

12. Chicago – At .500 (2-2-2) under new coach Carlos de los Cobos, the Fire is unsettled at left back, with Deris Umanzor and Krzysztof Krol yet to measure up the departed Gonzalo Segares, and striker Collins John hasn’t established himself in MLS.

13. FC Dallas – Bad luck and quirky officiating decisions can be blamed for only so long. Keeper Dario Sala seems to be have regressed with Kevin Hartman added to the roster, and newcomer Marvin Chavez hasn’t set off any skyrockets. Rookies Zach Loyd and Jason Yeisley are in the mix.

14. D.C. United – The Tommy Soehn Era doesn’t look nearly so bad now. None of what Curt Onalfo has wrought seems to be working, injuries notwithstanding. It’s early but already the spirit of this team seems to be waning.

15. Toronto – Unlike D.C., TFC has actually been able to win games, but of the defenders brought in by Preki, only Adrian Cann and Dan Gargan have done reasonably well. Maksim Usanov and Raivis Hsacanovics don’t inspire confidence, and Wynne and Robinson are flourishing with their new teams.



0 comments
  1. David Southwell
    commented on: May 4, 2010 at 10:01 a.m.
    As good as it seems that MLS is taking off I think the MLS in general needs to let the teams loose a little and not have such a tight reign on them. What teams need to go is send an intern over to Europe or even South American and study how the teams are, what makes them good, what makes them bad. Bring that information back and apply to teams here in the MLS. With the ever changing face of America, meaning of course the Anglo Saxon becoming lest dominant soccer (which is dumb term by the way) may become more popular.

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: May 4, 2010 at 11:42 a.m.
    The analysis of the Chicago Fire is way off the mark. While the defense still has some work to do the current weak record is more of a problem with finishing than with the back line. Conde and Brown have been excellent; Ward had one pitiful game but other than that has been solid; and, Krol was coming into his own when he was sidelined by a red card suspension. However at the front, neither McBride nor John has performed well. It should also be noted that De los Cobos has been without two of last year's starters,Pause and Thorrington for most of this young season. Finally, it should be noted that the Fire lost Blanco, Rolfe, Segares, and Soumare, all of the MLS all-stars. Little more patience please!!!!


Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Confidential
Losing skid reveals Rapids' flaws    
Injuries, sophomore slumps and a rookie head coach will be the primary causes cited if the ...
Soccer America Q&A: Falcons' Jim Smith on MLS Atlanta    
Former Columbus Crew president/general manager Jim Smith is playing a major role in the launch of ...
Changes under Cassar are taking hold for Real Salt Lake    
Real Salt Lake prides itself on continuity, yet for the past two seasons it has flourished ...
Three takeaways from Czech Republic-USA    
Alejandro Bedoya's goal and Nick Rimando's saves enabled the USA to kick off its post-2014 World ...
USA-Czech Republic Player Ratings    
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann's experimental squad -- he fielded only two 2014 World Cup regulars (Fabian Johnson ...
Toronto FC upheaval is all too familiar    
It's official: Toronto FC has overtaken Chivas USA as the most dysfunctional team in MLS.
FIFA's Putin problem    
How is it that the latest issue of GQ ranks FIFA president Sepp Blatter as No. ...
Twellman tops in study of six-year cycles    
Edson Buddle is the eighth player to hit the century mark in MLS goals, but how ...
Jones ratchets up prospects for the Revs    
How radically does the acquisition of Jermaine Jones alter dynamics in the Eastern Conference? Quite a ...
Women's star power drives turf fight    
It's a tribute to the star power of the U.S. women's national team that its fight ...
>> Soccer America Confidential Archives