You know what “gets” MLS coaches? Losing at home. That is something that Major League Soccer owners have historically been loath to countenance.
Nor should they tolerate it. Gate receipts count for a larger percentage of the total revenue for MLS clubs compared to other pro leagues here, where much larger piles of TV money always make up a larger slice of the total revenue pie.
So failure at home is a double whammy; it’s not just the losing, per se, which is bad enough. Clubs are also “losing” support at home, losing what I call “butts in seat” factor. When owners see the red ink spreading, the pressure to make changes becomes even more intense.
D.C. United just lost its third consecutive home match. Sunday’s 3-2 defeat at RFK Stadium to Philadelphia, when stacked on earlier home losses to Columbus and New York, will do absolutely nothing to lighten the hastily mounting pressure on United manager Ben Olsen.
It doesn’t help Olsen one little bit that Sunday’s clunker was on national TV, the ESPN2 match of the weekend. Nor does it help when sharp ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman pointed out early in Sunday’s match that United seemed uninspired and, perhaps, something too close to casual. Clubs that have lost two in a row at home can be a lot of things, but “casual” is not one of them. That’s 100 percent unacceptable.
Olsen may have a smidge of wiggle room thanks to last year’s progress, going from 9-13-12 in his first full season as head coach to a very respectable 17-10-7 mark in 2012. His men finished just short of a trip to MLS Cup, and that counts for something, too.
But … losing at home. That smarts. And that will erode any wiggle room factor, fast. United (1-5-1) remains last in the Eastern Conference.
Olsen is 30-36-20 now (including his time as “interim” manager at the end of 2010).
It’s not a terrible record. But, again, this losing at home will get old. Fast.