Only three weeks into the 2019 season and several MLS managers are hearing fans’ frustrations. Who will be the first to get sacked? Here are the top three candidates.
Someone always has to be the first manager fired in a given season. Sometimes the employment termination comes because a team continues to look dire, while others are sacked for failing to meet the high standards set. The 2019 Major League Soccer season has test cases for both situations.
The new MLS Cup playoff structure gives hope to more clubs. In turn, several coaches entered the 2019 MLS season with playoff mandates. Once that goal is out of reach, front offices are faced with a when-not-if question concerning a changing of the guard. However, it would be a rare season for every team to wait until the regular season is complete before cutting ties with a manager.
Long-tenured managers can reach a ceiling, at which it is best to move on; newly hired managers can have their honeymoon period turn into a horror show very quickly. Front offices that have invested heavily on a roster want to see immediate returns on that investment, regardless of a coaches’ tenure.
So, here are the managers are already on or approaching the hot seat, even at this early stage of the season.
3. Frank de Boer
Frank de Boer has been short for the job in his last few stops. Picking open wounds with snide comments to one of the largest fan bases in the world is one way to lose all benefit of the doubt. De Boer decided to bring even more chaos to the start of his tenure than a congested fixture list provided. His new tactics and prickly manner with the public has him facing early pressure.
At least de Boer has apologized for his demeanor, now he just has to fix Atlanta United’s tactical approach. In his post-match comments this week, de Boer said, ‘I feel like we were finding some problems to really find our free man. Because (Philadelphia) was very organized, we couldn’t keep our man in the midfield free.’
Pity Martinez has been forced into being the man, and filling Miguel Almiron’s role has been difficult. De Boer said after the 1-1 draw, ‘He has to get used to this, and he knows this wasn’t his best game. He can play much better, and he has to play much better. He has to adapt to everything like the new culture, new circumstances, and new turf. All those aspects make it quite difficult. We know he is a fantastic and quality player. We have to have patience with him.’
The first priority is finding out who ‘our man’ is for Atlanta. Pity Martinez was given the midfield keys, but Josef Martinez is the top end gear to this luxury MLS roster. Ezequiel Barco has made the most of his minutes, an increased role is warranted.
The talent is there, and so are the pressures and expectations. The Five Stripes faithful will not stand for disjointed performances leading to mid-table finishes. They also won’t stand for a patronizing manager.