Here was the scenario going into Friday night: both teams just played US Open Cup matches 3 days prior, both teams were missing influential players, and both teams were desperate for all 3 points. In all other circumstances the Fire traveling to Houston and getting a point versus the Dynamo in their own building would have been a victory in some sense.
With this tie, the Fire sit at 15 points, bottom of the league and the Eastern Conference, eight points out of a playoff spot. Two teams sit at 23 points right now, which is 5th and 6th in the conference - Toronto and the Red Bulls. The Fire have 1 game in hand over the Redbulls and are tied with Toronto in games played. What does this mean? it means there's no easy path to the postseason. If the Fire are unable to win - and win consistently - before the end of the month, we will likely see the team drop further away from the playoff spots. Suddenly, we're looking at the US Open Cup - or, say it quietly, 2016 - for a glimpse of hope of silverware.
If the playoffs look unlikely by month's end - or if, horror of horrors, the team is bounced from the Open Cup - what is to be done? Many in cf97 nation have been calling for the firing of Frank Yallop. I do not disagree with this; I have been critical of Yallop. He continues to trot out the same lineups, continues to use players that have proven themselves useless, and continues to play players out of position. It happened again on Friday, as he played Guly Do Prado as a central attacking midfielder while still using Harry Shipp on the outside. He can blame injuries for the poor performances this season - but all teams have injuries, it's the way that you respond to those injuries is what counts. Yallop built this team and apparently it is not strong enough to win plain and simple.
If Yallop's out, what changes?
So if Yallop is dismissed before seasons end who do you replace him with? Jimmy Neilsen? Tab Ramos? Mike Petke? Eric Wynalda? Jurgen Klopp? Coaching change may bring a few more wins and promise of a new hope but I honestly believe that the problem with this team lies much further up the chain of command. I'm talking about the problem being Andrew Hauptman, the club's owner and chairman.
He is the one that brought in Dennis Hamlett, Carlos De Los Cobos, Frank Klopas, and now Frank Yallop to coach the team.
He is the one that brought in Javier Leon, Guillermo Petrei, and Brian Bliss to find soccer talent.
He is the one that signed off on the failed DP experiments of Nery Castillo, Federico Puppo, Jaun Luis Anangono, Sherjill Macdonald, and Alvaro Fernandez.
You may argue that he shouldn't take the responsibility of who the clubs signs but I say that he bears all of the blame. He is the one that approves the signings and he is the one that brings in the so called "soccer experts" to run his team. My question is, what makes Andrew so knowledgeable about who he hires? Does Andrew have a soccer background which makes him capable of picking the right soccer people to build this club into a winner?
Until Hauptman sells this team, it will continue to be a coaching and roster carousel that will change every couple years unless Andrew realizes he is way out of his element and hires the right people to make the decisions for him. Andrew could take a hit on his ego and change - but as we have seen in the past, this probably will not happen because of the way he is. (See the infamous editorial that was clearly either written by him, or under his orders.)
This club needs change. Will a coaching change be good enough? Probably not; the rot it goes much higher up than the coach. It is well past time for the club to reexamine itself, authentically, "from the top down."
Lets give some stars
Friday's match in Houston was an abysmal display from both sides. There were only four shots total on goal from both teams; the passing accuracy was 67% for Houston and 66% for the Fire; and 614 total passes in 90 minutes tells the story of a disjointed, disorganized mess. Under these conditions, it is hard to give out stars to the players - who played well? I mean, really?
So this week I'm going to name Mike Magee and Patrick Nyarko as the stars of the match. Since coming back, Magee has shown what this team has been missing: Intelligent runs and desire. I'm glad he is back. I'm hoping that he and Kennedy Igboananike can form a solid partnership up top when given the chance. Nyarko gets it becuase he scored the goal, plain and simple. I'm also glad he is back in the fold, since his presence will finally give Yallop the opportunity to move Shipp back to his natural CAM position.
Up next is a home date with Seattle that is a must-win. If the Fire fail to pick up three points, the Men in Red could find themselves 11 points out of the playoff spots. Yallop needs to figure it out and quick or this season could be over this month.
No more excuses, Just results, period.