A preseason roster of MLS coaches on the edge of the hot seat would have included New York’s Hans Backe and San Jose’s Frank Yallop. Maybe a couple of others if you stretched things a little, but relative circumstances said Yallop and Backe were heading up that band of bedeviled brothers.
Toronto’s Aron Winter? Nah. The former Dutch international told everyone he had a three-year plan as he took over before 2011. And things finished on the upswing last year, so Winter seemed safe and snug in his position.
Only if the team regressed pitifully, only if the side looked hopelessly inept early in the 2012 season would fans, media and the collective court of public opinion began to toss patience overboard, right out into Lake Ontario.
Backe and Yallop are handling things nicely at the moment, while TFC has turned up in a terrible state. Actually, the side is looking historically awful. After yet another loss at home Saturday, Winter’s team has zero points from five matches – Major League Soccer’s only side without a single, measly point. Three of the five losses were home, at BMO Field, where the once-festive crowd is has apparently turned ambivalent.
It’s hard to declare Toronto “out” in the playoff race in April. On the other hand, the team looks so messy right now, so utterly lost on defense, so rudderless on the attack outside of striker Danny Koevermans and winger Joao Plata, that it’s hard to see a way out of the woods.
Yes, Torsten Frings remains injured, and he’s an important figure at BMO.
On the other hand, New England, Seattle, Dallas, Real Salt Lake and Colorado are missing players who would arguably wear the “Most Important Man” sash – and they are all doing OK, relatively speaking. Not that the overall talent at all these MLS outposts is equal. The point is, these clubs might be weaker for their losses, but they didn’t fall apart. They aren’t stuck in a ditch without a clue of how to put some gas in the tank, re-attach the wheels and get that bucket of bolts back on pavement.
Right now, Toronto is a punching bag, guided by a manager (Winter) who has yet to prove he can identify talent with a skill set fit for MLS.
So, if I made a list of coaches in trouble today, he’d top that forlorn totem pole.
Against that backdrop, here are highlights from the latest grenade tossed into BMO Field, as Chivas USA came and went Saturday with all the points.