This latest coaching move by FC Dallas had better work out. Otherwise, short of spending tens of millions to lure Juergen Klinsmann
or Fabio Capello
shores, or a few mil to drag Bruce Arena
back into the MLS fold, I don't know what else the franchise can do.
In this decade, it has employed American-born coaches
, Mike Jeffries
) and gone with British ex-pros (Colin Clarke
, Steve Morrow
). It has won a lot of regular-season games
and faltered in the playoffs. It has built a superb facility (Pizza Hut Park), fielded some excellent international players (Oscar Pareja, Juan Toja, Ronnie O'Brien
), and signed
a complete clunker (Denilson
). It has been home to one of the best American players in league history (Jason Kreis
And it hasn't even reached MLS
Cup, much less won it. Why?
What it hasn't done is opt for stability and continuity, supposedly the staples of success in pro sports, and especially when it comes to coaching. Morrow
lasted less than a season and a half, and his .500 record (15-15-8) over that span didn't convince team executives Clark Hunt
and Dan Hunt
that he should have
been chosen over their top choice, Schellas Hyndman
, in the first place.
By exercising their power, however, the Hunts have wedged team GM Michael
, who made the call to fire Clarke as well as hire his former assistant, Morrow, in a precarious position. Hitchcock followed predecessors Billy Hicks
and Greg Elliott
in October, 2005, and upon his arrival promised an MLS Cup to fans of the team formerly known as the Burn.
on that promise, Hitchcock must rely on Hyndman, the man he passed over in favor of Morrow, whose decision to anchor his back line with former Mexican international Duilio Davino
and switch to a 3-5-2 formation has yet to take root.
Hyndman's career at SMU mirrors somewhat that of FC Dallas: an excellent record (368-98-38), yet just two trips to the final
four and no championships in 24 seasons. And he's already expressed his preference for a four-man back line, which probably means more adjustments and changes to defenders and the midfield as
Where Hyndman might help FCD is mentally and psychologically. His training in martial arts (advanced degree black belt in karate) is steeped in mental toughness, as former SMU
defender Ugo Ihemelu
told me in the Galaxy locker room following its win in MLS Cup 2005.
"The mental side of the game, concentrating every minute and every second,
never losing your focus, that's where Schellas helped me the most to become a professional," said Ihemelu. "He's pretty intense, well, really intense, himself and he wants that in his
In recent seasons, FCD has not lacked for determined, zealous players, but it has suffered from frozen lobes at critical times, as per Chris Gbandi
card in the 30th minute of the Western Conference semifinal second leg against Colorado in 2006, and Arturo Alvarez
's ejection last year early in the second half in the same
situation against Houston.
Let's not forget, either, how Dallas fell to Colorado in the 2005 playoffs, losing on penalties after a 2-2 tie during which is played with a man advantage
for 73 minutes following the ejection of Alain Nkong
. Carlos Ruiz
could have won the series with a penalty kick in the 112nd minute but shot against the
Bad luck or bad brains? You make the call.
The new boss ain't like the old boss, but it's his boss, not him, who's on the hot seat.
being the Hunts' choice, will surely get more time than Morrow unless he proves to be a complete debacle, so if FCD Dallas isn't at Home Depot Center this November for MLS Cup 2008, the next major
change will be aimed a few rungs higher on the accountability ladder.