Thursday, June 08, 2006

On the passing of Sampson

The LA Galaxy fired Sam Sampson (pictured on left) this week and replaced him with former San Jose coach Frank Yallop.

At a third of the way through the season, the Galaxy find themselves the worse team in the league with a lowly 7 points from 11 games. They are also the team with the fewest goals scored and the most goals allowed.

Yet even with this record, should Sampson have been fired? I think it was very justified, but a couple other people who are much smarter then I in the way of the soccer ball do not. Because I love blogging about the post of other bloggers, I want to comment on this.

D over at DCenters argues that LA General Manager Alexi Lalas (pictured on right) has lost all public credibility because he stated that he had no plans to get rid of Sampson anytime soon. He goes on to say that this loss of credibility will spill over to the workplace because how can anyone in the organization take him at his word if he has broken it so many times in the past.

My thoughts on these two things are simple. The public statements are like all public statements, worth less then the time it takes to read them. Have you ever heard any professional manager say that if the coach doesn’t win this game then he is gone? It just doesn’t happen that way. This is not exclusive to the sporting word, just look at the government. How many times have officials been given complete support one day just to see them retire to ‘spend more time with the family’ the next day (paging Michael Brown)?

As far as the private statements, I don’t have a clue what Lalas said to Sampson when they were alone, but any professional coach that sees his championship team in the basement a third of the way through the season has to realize that they are in trouble. Unless Lalas recently told Sampson directly that he was safe, then I don’t think there is a credibility gap.

Let’s look at the other argument, presented by Quarter Volley that Sampson had earned more time thanks to winning the double last year. Also, that the lack of Landon Donovan to World Cup duty should have been taken into greater consideration. Winning the double was fantastic and I don’t want to take anything away from that, but LA did it because Donovan had something to prove and, as Bruce’s Belly points out, MLS teams fell to pieces last year.

As far as the Donovan being gone, as Quarter Volley points out in his defense of Sampson, Golden Boy was there for the first two defeats of their current slide. He was also there on April 22nd when LA lost at home to a horrible Columbus Crew side. But all that doesn’t really matter because Sampson has known Landon would be away since September 3, 2005, the night the US clinched their spot in Germany.

Just to put that in perspective, if a woman got pregnant that night, she just had her baby. If human life can come into existence during that time, Sampson should have been able to develop a team that would work without Donovan. The fact that he did not speaks to why he needed to go.

I’m all for giving coaches and players a chance to rebound, but a six game slide that sees your team go almost 10 hours without scoring a goal, well that’s a bit much (especially after a 2-2-1 start). Hopefully this will not set off a chain reaction as the new person at the top of the ‘bye-bye’ list is Mo Johnson. Mo deserves more then 9 games* to turn around a team that hasn’t done anything in 10-years.

* I’m not counting the games from 2005 because they were so late in the season that Mo had to work within an already created situation.


Blogger D said...

Mike: I got back to you in the comments. I can't really argue with you on the issue of "How long should Steve have been given." That's a matter of opinion. I gave Rongren an entire season at one point, and I'd do it again even as he ran my team into the ground. But we can disagree on that, and it's pretty much a matter of personal style.

On Alexi... that's different. But my response on that is at DCenters.

9:01 PM  

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