Three slices of advice to MLS coaches wishing to keep employment:
1) don't lose at home;
2) don't lose at home in front of a buzzing, capacity-plus crowd never before seen in your facility that includes incredulous management execs, and;
3) don't get blown out 5-1 by a team incapable of shutting out 11 tykes on tricycles.
In admitting he'd consulted with Hunt Sports Group executives before dismissing Steve Morrow,
president and general manager Michael Hitchcock
cited the team's under-achievements, its poor record at home,
and yes, that humiliating thrashing at Pizza Hut Park inflicted as much by Edson Buddle
and Alvaro Pires
as Landon Donovan
and David Beckham
Morrow, moved up to the top job in December 2006, after serving as Colin Clarke
's assistant, followed him out the door after coaching just 38 games and recording a 15-15-8 record. As he did when he jettisoned Clarke, Hitchcock cited
a wealth of talent unable to generate commensurate results as the primary reason.
"I just felt the team was heading in the wrong direction and that we needed to make this change at
this time," said Hitchcock, whose contract, like that of Morrow, expires this year. "Obviously, losing 5-1 at home to Los Angeles in front of our biggest crowd ever [22,331] was a factor."
Not winning any of its past four games after opening the season 2-0-2 also weighed into Hitchcock's decision, as did the presence of HSG executive Dan
, son of the late Lamar Hunt
, who watched FCD utterly collapse after surrendering a Chris Klein
goal in the
25th minute following a good start by FCD, including a Steve Cronin
tip-over of an audacious 40-yard effort by Kenny Cooper.
"That's the way
soccer can go," says Cooper, who assisted on Dominic Oduro
's goal in the 54th minute. "It was an interesting game. We weren't able to score and they were very
efficient in front of goal."
Buddle danced past three defenders untouched to score the second, defender Duilio Davino
deflected a Donovan cross
past keeper Dario Sala
for No 3, and some sluggish defending by Sala and Davino enabled Pires to set up Buddle to knock in the fourth.
my thoughts with ownership," said Hitchcock. "I got their thoughts and they provided their input. You never want to make these decisions on your own, you always want to provide an opportunity for
people you respect and trust to share their thoughts."
Said Cooper, son of the former NASL goalkeeper and MISL Baltimore Blast coach Ken Sr.
didn't think anything like this was coming. I really am surprised. I enjoyed playing for him very much and I am sad for him. I think he'll go on and do really well for himself."
Cooper, who joined the team in February, 2006, will play for his third MLS head coach this weekend when Marco Ferruzzi
sends the team out on an interim basis
against Real Salt Lake, with a fourth coach to follow when a replacement for Morrow is selected. Hitchcock said that process is just beginning, which suggests the Galaxy goalfest so disgruntled
team management that it decided immediate change was needed.
Yet tension had been building, and not just because of the winless streak. Team management has refused to clarify or
comment about the dismissal last week of assistant coach Jorge Alvial
, who'd been hired by the team in January. Losing for the second time in four home
matches this season exacerbated one of Hitchcock's pet peeves.
"If you look at our home record over the past year and a half, I think we've had 30 home games that were actual ticketed
matches in all competitions, and we've won 10 of those," said Hitchcock, who is absolutely correct when toting up regular-season, playoff, U.S. Open Cup, SuperLiga, and preseason games. "I am a
firm believer in that when we bring our fans out to the stadium, we need to make sure that this is truly a homefield advantage for the team.
"When we do that, we need the team to
respond and reward the fans for coming out and supporting us. Our home record has not been great, and the challenge that we've been having as a team and heading in the wrong direction sort of
manifested itself with the 5-1 loss on Sunday."
Dallas fizzled at home in the last two months of the 2007 season. It lost the Open Cup final to the Revs, 3-2, and went 1-3-2 in its
last six regular-season games before beating Houston narrowly, 1-0, at home in the Western Conference semifinals. Houston romped in the return leg, 4-1.
Not confirmed were rumors of
a team meeting called by Morrow last week to discuss the previous game, a 2-1 loss at Real Salt Lake, in which he and several players allegedly bickered over blame for the defeat. Kyle Beckerman
nutmegged Sala for the winning goal after the keeper had charged out to contest an Andy Williams
chip. Sala had
drilled a ricochet off teammate Andre Rocha
that Javier Morales
rolled home for the first goal.
excellent flying save by Sala had denied Fabian Espindola
in the 10th minute, and Davino had robbed RSL of a goal by clearing a shot off the goal line in the
second half. As they had done the previous week in a 0-0 tie at San Jose, Dallas flubbed numerous scoring chances against RSL.
"I'm not aware of anything like that," said Cooper of
players being singled out for blame at a meeting. "We thought we deserved to get something out of that game but I don't know anything about anything else."
Hitchcock hasn't set a
timetable to name a replacement. SMU head coach Schellas Hyndman
is a favored candidate each time Dallas fires a head coach, as is former head coach Dave Dir
. Hitchcock may be hampered in his search by teams refusing to let him talk with current assistant coaches, such as Paul
(New England), John Spencer
(Houston) and Robert Warzycha
"This decision was
made purely on the fact we're not headed in the right direction, man," said Hitchcock. "If you look at our results as of late, on the field it does not meet the expectations that we have for this
"By no means do I think we're past the point of no return for this season. We feel we've got a talented roster and I feel confident that when this team plays up to its
potential, it can contend for championships."