The Colorado Rapids fired manager Anthony Hudson yesterday. This should not be a surprise to anyone even remotely aware of the goings on of MLS. They’ve lost seven of their first nine games, and have not claimed a W at all this season. The Fire dropped a four-spot on them in what feels like a lifetime, but was really only two weeks ago.
But Colorado’s problems go deeper than tactics or management. They have an ownership problem. Stan Kroenke is nowhere to be found. An absentee owner with better teams in his team portfolio— Arsenal are playing for a spot in the Europa League Final, the Nuggets are in a tight playoff series with the Blazers, and the LA Gladiators are the third best team in the Overwatch League— his negligence of the Colorado Rapids is easy to spot. And because of his silent nature and his philosophy of not talking, one only assumes that his feelings on the matter are that he doesn’t care. He’s perfectly happy to take that SUM money and to hell with the results.
Some people will look at what’s happening in Denver and see a tremendous parallel with what’s going on over at 71st and Harlem Ave.
After all, Nelson Rodriguez’s twice-per-year state of the organization press briefings are the only times we hear any big picture talk from inside the organization. And we rarely if ever hear from the big man himself.
Throughout his entire tenure as owner of the Chicago Fire- and my tenure as a member of the media so going back to the summer of 2012, I can remember talking to him less than a handful of times, and never for very long. Once was at halftime of a random game, where he basically showed up and said “hi” and answered a question or two in a scrum. Once at a preseason media event where everything was off the record, so, what was even the point of it?
However, I think there’s one key difference that separates Stan Kroenke and Andrew Hauptman. Stan Kroenke is negligent and absent. Hauptman is absent and bad.
The Fire are not bad because of negligence. We know this because unlike Colorado, the Fire have gone after big names and impact players during his ownership tenure. There’s been signs of ambition from the organization and every few years, the red shirt with the white stripe has been worn by a winner. The Fire’s real problem is that, more often than not, that ambition and want to has been met with failure and incompetence. It’s been the wrong players at the wrong time, the wrong management at the wrong time, everything that can go wrong has gone wrong.
They’ve failed to sign almost every big name that they’ve pursued and wasted the talents of the ones they’ve succeeded in getting. Bastian Schweinsteiger is not the only star to waste away his last years of quality football with the Fire. Arne Friedrich was still a hell of a defender, and was a major reason Frank Klopas’ side made the playoffs. Nery Castillo was supposed to come revitalize his career with the club instead of going quietly into that good night. And the less said about the league screwing the Fire from Jermaine Jones and Didier Drogba, the better.
Even his choices to lead the front office were good selections. Brian Bliss won two Supporters Shields and one MLS Cup as technical director with the Columbus Crew before being replaced by now USMNT manager Gregg Berhalter. Nelson Rodriguez was sold to both him and us as the MLS Contract Whisperer, able to manipulate the notoriously difficult contract rules to positive effect. It’s safe to say that both of those were failures or are in the process of failure.
When the story is written about Andrew Hauptman’s time as owner of the Chicago Fire, it won’t be about negligence, or about someone who doesn’t care about results. It will be about constant, comprehensive failure. In some ways that’s better than what’s going on in Colorado, and in some ways, it’s a lot worse.