Tagged: Philadelphia Union

FC Bayern Bullies Werder Bremen and the Bundesliga…

When a team is simply the best a picture speaks a thousand words…

CPWP Strategic Index Bundesliga Week 8

Rarely do I ever focus on just one game in my analyses but I think it’s worthy to spend just a wee bit of time on the Bayern – Bremen match to really drive home what my Family of Indices can show.

Here’s how the two teams matched up in Week 8 using my PWP data array:

Possession with Purpose Data Array Bayern vs Bremen Bundesliga Week 8

I’m not sure the obnoxious dominance of FC Bayern Munchen can be pictured any more clearly than this without some creative graphics.

So is Werder Bremen really as bad as this one game shows?

Before Week 8 here’s where they stood in the CPWP Strategic Index:  

CPWP Strategic Index Bundesliga Week 7

Sixth from the bottom, so in the space of one week they’ve gone from 6th worst in overall PWP to worst…  

I’ll call that the Bayern Bruise…  both Stuttgart, FC Koln, Paderborn, and Hamburger have felt that to some extent as well…

That being said, Bremen have played all the top teams in the Index apart from FSV Mainz and Mochengladbach – so is it any wonder their near bottom?

Hmmmm… not so sure but they have yet to play Hamburger, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Paderborn, Augsburg, or Dortmund. Most likely meaning, with the exclusion of Dortmund, some points are to be had.

Can they get them though?  I’m not so sure.

APWP Strategic Index Bundesliga Week 8

After Week 8 they are sixth bottom in the APWP Strategic Index – and yes, they have played most of the top teams in the Bundesliga – and when peeling back the attacking team performance data it’s not anemic by any stretch.

They are 7th best in converting Shots on Goal to Goals Scored (>35%)… usually that means a bit of patience to go along with a bit of time and space to get goals.

They are 10th best in having their Shots Taken be Shots on Goal (>35%)… another indicator that time and space is being created to generate accurate shots – even against some of the better teams in the Bundesliga.

They are 7th lowest in taking Shots per penetrating possession (>17%) – for the most part a lower percentage here is not a bad thing – it usually indicates patience, along with taking a bit more time to create space.

Indeed, the top team in having the lowest percentage of Shots Taken per penetrating possession is FC Bayern (11.55%).

They are also 5th best in their percentage of possession resulting in penetration (24.45%).

Where things go pear shaped is overall Passing Accuracy and Possession; they are the worst team in the Bundesliga when it comes to Passing Accuracy (64.39%) and only Paderborn has less possession (37.68% to 43.93%).

So what’s that mean?

From an attacking standpoint in and around the 18 yard box all seems very good – usually meaning they have at least one good midfielder with vision and at least one good striker who can score goals.

But, with the poor passing accuracy and overall possession it may also mean there are some defensive weaknesses bleeding over to impact that attack, like having too many turnovers in their defensive half, or/and

Playing the ball a bit too quickly out of their Defending Half, or/and

Their back line may be defending too high, or/and

Their central midfielders just aren’t good enough to control the run of play between the Defending Final Third and Attacking Final Third…

So in considering potential Defending issues bleeding over to impact the Attack here’ how they compare to others in the Defending PWP Strategic Index:

DPWP Strategic Index Bundesliga Week 8

Dead last – of course some of that may have to do with the Bayern Bruise syndrome – but even after Week 7 Werder Bremen was still 2nd worst.  So the Bruise is there but not as deep based upon Bayern as one might think.  

In terms of overall performance here’s a few observations for consideration:

Opponents average 73.25% Passing Accuracy – in other words the opponent is doing better at completing passes than Werder Bremen – weaknesses, it would seem reasonable, exist in the overall talent of this team compared to others…

We already know they are second worst in overall possession.  Now is that down to how the Coach likes to run a specific system – or is that down to simply having weaker players than the opponent?

Not sure yet – but it’s a good bet that Werder Bremen is looking to play counter-attacking football and that style, coupled with poor passing accuracy is compounding the issue.

In terms of goals scored against – even when you take the six goals out of the equation that Bayern scored – Werder Bremen still average 2.29 goals against per game.

The worst in the Bundesliga – so now only do they have a lower skill level in overall passing it would seem to be that they also have a back four – and goal keeper – who simply aren’t good enough at closing down the time and space the opponent needs to score goals.

A similar pattern appeared with Philadelphia Union this year in Major League Soccer – the solution to stop that goal rot was simply a move by the new Head Coach to have his defenders drop deeper – about 10 yards deeper to be exact.

When that happened the goals against for the Union went from 1.71 to 1.25…

In closing:

It’s still early days but eight weeks are gone and trends ARE forming – Werder Bremen is NOT showing the team indicators that point to a side who’s had bad luck – they are pointing to a side that aren’t that good…

But it’s not too early to remember that the best indicator for a team taking a nose dive in overall performance is defending – and right now Werder Bremen is not defending as well as a team should do if they expect to finish near mid-table as they have in the past.

If things continue like this it is likely this team gets relegated – and an offering up of that after just eight weeks should be enough time for the organization to make the appropriate changes to right the ship…

It’s a tough hill to climb but if 13th or 14th is to be realistic again this year then things need to change pretty bloody quick.

Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT, All Rights Reserved.   PWP – Trademark

 

MLS – Week 29 – Gregg Berhalter – Manager of the Year? I think so…

Most should know, by now, that the top teams in MLS are queueing up for the final playoff push while others sit in dispair and wonder what’s gone wrong…

I’ll dig into that, in detail, in a few weeks – for now let’s take a look at those teams on the cusp (a whole bunch I might add) and see what we can see…

In the tradition of my analyses here’s the latest Possession with Purpose Strategic Composite Index (CPWP):

CPWP Strategic Index Week 29 MLS

Figure the West is down to two teams unless Portland completely folds with four games to go; for some perhaps not as unlikely as they’d like to admit given Will Johnson is out and Diego Valeri misses the next game against San Jose.

In the East it’s not quiet as simple – this conference has been plagued with bad team performances throughout the year – and it’s almost sickening to sense that Sporting Kansas City, a year in and year out top performer, will move to the Western Conference next year… wow – that sucks!

Be that as it may, Toronto, Philadelphia, Houston, and New York are battling for the 5th Playoff spot.

That doesn’t mean Columbus is in the clear but if ever a team deserved to make the Playoffs, in the East, it would be Columbus – one of the MOST consistent teams this year…

And that consistency of purpose has also translated to results in the league table – Caleb Porter did that with the Portland Timbers last year and Gregg Berhalter is doing that with Columbus this year…

Team performance AND results, combined, matter!

In my opinion Gregg Berhalter, hands down, is Manager of the Year!

I get it that Ben Olsen has turned his team around – but Berhalter has rebuilt his team – all Olsen has done is really find two new strikers and upgraded some defensive players – he has not rebuilt and redirected a new philosophical approach like Berhalter has.

Of course Columbus still need to make the playoffs to etch in stone that results oriented improvement matches team attacking and defending performance improvement.

Anyhow, I digress… statistically speaking the CPWP Strategic Index correlation (R2) to average points in the league table is (.83) – the highest yet this year.

Before moving on to APWP, some additional thoughts on Toronto, Philadelphia and Houston…

I watched that Toronto victory over Portland the other day and I can’t help but think how horrid that team is in overall, run of play, performance.

If the Timbers had any inkling of a defensive minded bench, and starting squad, the Reds would have been blown away – wow… but it’s about results in this league and when it came to set-pieces they got results.

As for Philadelphia – my hat is off to Jim Curtin – he’s taken the same squad, made a defensive tweak and brought them back – other than that nothing, absolutely nothing has changed between he and John Hackworth; er… other than the results – which of course stems from that defensive change — more here.

Both solid guys, both wanting to win, one took one path and it didn’t pay off – so the other took a slightly different path and it paid off…

Houston – well – they’ve been on the far side of great team performances this year more than most – what started as a good run might end as a good run – who knows – it’s a funny conference and poor performances in the East don’t mean you lose… fancy that!

Now on to Attacking PWP – here’s how they stand after Week 29:

APWP Strategic Index Week 29 MLS

A shiny example of how simply being a great attacking team ISN’T the answer in this league – too much focus by New York and Portland in attack as opposed to defending has cost them – BIG TIME… Cameron Knowles is the Defensive Coordinator for the Timbers and it’s clear, to me, he needs to go.

I’d imagine whoever the defensive coordinator for the Red Bulls is should be moved too…

Caleb Porter is a brilliant leader – and when you have brilliant leaders you don’t need ‘yes-men’ to work with them.

You need assistanct coaches with vision that looks in different areas – asks tough questions – pushes their own defensive agenda to make others in the organization to think even more, all the while stretching/pushing the added research and analysis you need to outperform the opponent on both sides of the ball…

I don’t personally know Cameron – have never even talked with him; he’s proabably a really good guy…

But it is clear, given the consistently bad defending nature/statistics/results of this team (goals against are 4th worst in MLS) the internal organizational structure to build a strong – defensive minded – thinking team – isn’t there…

If they make the Playoffs they will be lucky – very lucky; and that’s hard to say for me #RCTID!

New York – if New York gets edged out by any of those Eastern Conference teams I’d imagine Mike Petke gets sacked… the Red Bulls, like Portland, have been dodgy in defending all season long…

Sidenote:  With respect to Thierry Henry – he’s such a classy guy – I met him in the elevator at the MLS All Star game and he’s a normal guy, who respects his Head Coach, whoever that might be, and he simply plays great attacking football.

While he’s offered no indication he might retire I think he does; and unlike Landon Donovan I think Thierry is OKAY with not having his retirement, here, being made a big deal.

I’d offer a simple testamonial with Arsenal and Arsene Wenger is good enough for Henry – and rightly so – as his best footballing years came in London town!

Now about those fringe teams… Toronto, Houston, Philadelphia, and New York in the East…

  • Toronto – one of the worst passing teams in Major League Soccer – 75% across the entire pitch (5th worst in the league).  What makes this team work is Michael Bradley’s vision – a superb acquisition for MLS but is it good enough to stop the playoff-missing rot?
  • As for technical things that might have changed with Vanney taking over after Nelson got booted – I’m not seeing any… maybe things will show better at the end of the season – for now I think that bust up was about ego more than anything else…
  • Philadelphia – as noted, this team has tactically changed with John Hackworth being replaced by Jim Curtin.  Like Toronto, Philadelphia is a poor passing team – what is getting them where they are now is better defending – take note Portland!
  • Houston – on the trailing edge of good attacking and defending performances all season long.
  • As noted though – the tenor of Houston hasn’t been about leading, against teams, in attack – it’s more of a grinding team that works hard in defending and tries to take advantage of opponent weak spots when attacking.
  • Adding Garido and Beasley has helped that and you’ll see below in DPWP they are 7th worst after Week 29; yet after Week 19 they were 2nd worst – a move up the Index a full five places…
  • I’d imgine it’s that tenor that has lead to discussion about Kinnear moving to San Jose – hmmm… there’s more to that than meets the eye…
  • Anyhow, Bruin has flopped this year, and it’s likely he gets moved – and with Davis spending time with the USMNT that may have cost this team a whole bunch in leadership.
  • At the end of the day – Houston have a possible 15 points with five game remaining – all against Eastern Conference foes.
  • While it’s a long shot, if they get past New York this next weekend, I can see the dominoes fall in a favorable direction for the dynamic Dynamo – if the defense holds…  (my sleeper to push New York out…)

Moving on to Defending PWP:

DPWP Strategic Index Week 29 MLS

By the way – there’s Columbus at the top of the Defending PWP Strategic Index – and they were 5th best in APWP – for a combined 2nd best in CPWP…

Defense wins, so hopefully we see that consistent team performance carry on to the Playoffs and through to the finals!

As for the three teams (plus New York) in the East?

Team performance wise – there’s Houston sitting above New York, Philadelphia and Toronto – and six of the bottom seven teams in all of MLS (for team defending performance) are teams from the Eastern Conference – only the embarrassing, pathetic, Chivas USA are worse…

And with them taking a two year hiatus (you might as well say ‘relegated’) it’s about time that poorly organized team was dumped and replaced – hopefully they move as well!  I wonder how that impacts the Expansion Draft?

Anyhow – in the West, note that Vancouver has edged back into the higher echelon of team defending – they have FC Dallas, at home, with Seattle away, San Jose away and Colorado at home.

In Week 19, Vancouver were 9th best in DPWP – even with those two recent losses to Portland, they have now climbed to 5th best in DPWP; you don’t need to beat everybody to make the playoffs…

I can see Vancouver taking six of 12 points here.  Can the Timbers take nine of 12 points with two matches against San Jose, one against Real Salt Lake, and the final one away to FC Dallas (who will most certainly not want to finish 4th)?

Hard to say but if Gaston Fernandez can step in for Diego Valeri who knows?

For now, and I’ve not offered this before, I think playing both Darlington Nagbe and Diego Valeri, on the pitch, hurts the tenor of team defending on this team.

It’s almost like those two guys are too dynamic in attack and less able to motor and provide a  more box-to-box support this team probably needs in defending…

If they stay together then the upgrade at both fullback spots – plus another center-back – is really needed to keep the defense sound.  I digress…

All that said means San Jose are a likely doormat the last five games.

If Watson is elementary  in coaching the last four games he is surely gone for next year – I’d imagine he and Wondolowski and others will not want to finish the season with just six points – and that’s opining that they can beat Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto as well as take the expected three points against Chivas?

Unlikely – I’d offer Watson sees HIS team as being one that can pull 12 points out of their remaining five games – especially since their last one is against Chivas USA…

In closing:

All to play for – regardless of how things go this year – these same teams will not have these same players next year.

One thing about MLS is that variation in team composition is consistent – the expansion draft is likely to see a few teams lose at least two players – making the academy and (individual) team scouting all the more important than a ‘composite’ MLS scouting approach.

To think that this franchise driven league relies more on an overall ‘collective scouting system to get players for the league’ flies in the face of the very economic and competitive structure of this country where individual thinking, individual feeling, and individual analysis suits individual companies better to make them individually more competitive.

It’s not about the “league” anymore in my opinion – and Chivas USA, coupled with New York City FC and all that the Manchester City pedigree brings with it, has shown that.

From here on (MLSNext???) it should be about the individual team within the larger franchise.

I think it’s time for poker to go up…  MLS has arrived as a competitive league – now individual teams, and individual owners, should go out there and bloody compete on a team to team footing and may the best organization win!

And yes, Gregg Berhalter should be the MLS Coach of the Year!

Best, Chris

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Major League Soccer – Week 28 – A Union divided? Not now…

Twenty eight games in – the screws are tightening and the pucker factor hit the Vancouver Whitecaps big time; see here: Valeri’s vicious volley from Villafana vanquishes Vancouver.

For me though, the real story is how the tables have turned in Philadelphia – I’ll get to that in just a wee bit – for now here’s my usual Possession with Purpose Family of Indices:

CPWP Strategic Index Week 28 MLS

CPWP Strategic Index Week 28 MLS

At this stage the top ten teams above the red line are the top ten teams in the Index.  Good; the End State of trying to match the league table without points seems to be holding steady and the correlation this week (R2) remains a steady and strong .82.

There are at least two key issues this week – who continues to push up the table to make the Playoffs and who continues to push for the Supporter’s Shield – Seattle took a hit this week – but – then again they won the US Open Cup – winning silver is never a bad thing.

In terms of making the Playoffs – tight races for sure.  Some teams have a possible 18 points to get while some others have 15 points to get – with that many points available Vancouver, Philadelphia, Colorado, Toronto, Houston, and even San Jose are still in the hunt.

Moving on to the APWP Strategic Index and peeling back changes to the Philadelphia Union: 

APWP Strategic Index Week 28 MLS

APWP Strategic Index Week 28 MLS

LA Galaxy continue to be attack mad – and some familiar faces appear up near the top as well – remember Portland and New York from last year?  Well… they are still here and still dangerous.

But this isn’t about those three teams – today’s focus is about Philadelphia and how the Union have come together.  In order to see that let’s peel back how they differ from earlier this year with John Hackworth leading the cause.

Here’s the statistical details – do they show any changes?  

  • The average number of total passes with John was 454 per game; under Jim it’s 367 per game – a HUGE difference!
  • The average amount of possession with John was 50.85%; under Jim it’s 44.04% – a HUGE difference!
  • The average penetration per possession under John was 22.04%; under Jim it’s 26.14% – in terms of volume that also represents a HUGE difference!
  • The average Shots Taken per penetrating possession under John was 20.11%; under Jim it’s 19.06% – not big but worthy…
  • The average Shots on Goal per Shot Taken under John was 29.83%; under Jim it’s 38.30% – a HUGE difference!
  • The average Goals Scored per Shots on Goal under John was 36.78%; under Jim it’s 41.14% – a HUGE difference!
  • The average Goals Scored under John was 1.17; under Jim it’s 1.93 – a HUGE difference!

In all, there are considerable differences in team attacking performances under the direction of John Hackworth versus Jim Curtin.

This isn’t offering that one coach is better than the other; what it does offer – however – is that with a slightly different playing style – the output of a team, with the same players, can change.

Top be precise, the volume of passes, and percentages of possession, penetration, shots on goal, and goals scored are considerably different; and those differences do lead to an increase in goals scored and total points.

Said a different way – the Union are possessing the ball less – which in turn means the opponent is possessing the ball more, which, in turn,  means there is more time and space in the opponent’s own Defending Final Third if the opponent loses the ball and the Union can capitalize on that open space.

Might the Union Defending team performance indicators support that?  Let’s see; here’s the DPWP Strategic Index:

DPWP Strategic Index Week 28 MLS

DPWP Strategic Index Week 28 MLS

In looking specifically at the Union; here’s the breakdown on the Union Defending team performance outputs under John Hackworth versus Jim Curtin:

  • The opponent average number of total passes with John was 440 per game; under Jim it’s 468 per game – a big difference!
  • The opponent average amount of possession with John was 48.90%; under Jim it’s 55.96% – a HUGE difference!
  • The opponent average penetration per possession under John was 21.26%; under Jim it’s 21.25% – no difference!
  • The opponent average volume of passes in the Union Defending Final Third with John was 101.50; under Jim it’s 126.27 – a large increase in volume of penetration.
  • The opponent average volume of passes completed in the Union Defending Final Third with John was 69.07; under Jim it’s 81.05 – an increase in volume of completed passes in the Union Defending Final Third.
  • The opponent  average Shots Taken per penetrating possession under John was 19.49%; under Jim it’s 13.95% – a worthy difference…
  • The opponent average Shots on Goal per Shot Taken under John was 39.61%; under Jim it’s 37.78% – a worthy difference…
  • The opponent average Goals Scored per Shots on Goal under John was 36.90%; under Jim it’s 34.12% – a worthy difference…
  • The opponent average Goals Scored under John was 1.71; under Jim it’s 1.25 – a HUGE difference!

In all, there are worthy differences in team defending performance between John and Jim.

In answering the leading question into DPWP – the answer is yes…

  • The volume of penetration has increased markedly under the leadership of Jim Curtin in comparison to John Hackworth – it’s that difference that leads many to believe that the defensive line of the back-four has dropped deeper…
  • In addition, with dropping deeper, it’s expected that the space will get tighter – with less space, and time, opponent shots taken and shots on goal volume should decrease.
  • Under John, the opponents volume of shots taken was 12.36 per game with 4.79 shots on goal per game – under Jim, shots taken is 11.40 per game while shots on goal is 4.00 per game.
  • So they not only decrease in volume, they also decrease in percentage as noted in the bullets above.
  • Finally, under John Hackworth, Goals Against were 1.70 per game; under Jim Curtin they are 1.36.

Bottom line here – the Union are simply better in defending, and in turn, their deeper drop, in defending, has led to an improved attack.

In Closing:

For those only interested in Total Points – under John Hackworth – the Philadelphia Union had earned 11 points in 14 games; under the guidance of Jim Curtin (now) the team has 27 points from 15 games.

If that pattern continues (1.8 points per game) the Union could finish with 47 points – and in an Eastern Conference – that just may be enough to make the Playoffs.

All for now …

Later this week, my run down on the English Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, and a special review on Expected Wins looking at all four leagues together…

Looking to answer this question – is comparing individual players on Barcelona to FC Koln, to Southampton, to LA Galaxy worthy given that the four leagues all have different patterns to winning – or do they?

Best, Chris

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What did Philadelphia do different in beating New England this past weekend?

What, if anything, did Philadelphia Union do that was different from their historical averages so far this year?

If you’re reading this article first – you may want to check out this article on Composite Possession with Purpose (CPWP) Predictability Index, results for Week 16 in Major League Soccer, first to see why I am offering it.

There are many supplemental data points to PWP – here’s a few general observations / potential difference makers I see after reviewing the data I collect:

When Philadelpia has won, in the past, their opponent possesses the ball slightly more.

Philadelphia defeated Sporting KC on the road where SKC had ~66% of the ball and in this last game New England had ~57% of the ball.

The only home win Philadelphia have is against New England where the Union dominated possession (~60%).

The other road game was against Chivas USA and, like everybody else in MLS, the Union dominated possession (~64%). – Hence that ‘slightly more’ percentage is deceptive.

In the Union victory over New England, this past weekend, the Revolution had 103 unsuccessful passes across the Entire Pitch; ~64% of those unusccessful passes came in the Union defending Final Third.

In other words the Union gave up possession and gave additional space and time to New England outside the defending Final Third.

Their average number of Tackles Won supports that as well.

When the Union lose they average 15 Tackles Won per game.

When they draw they average 20 Tackles Won per game.

In this game they had seven Tackles Won – supporting the idea that they applied less pressure and relied more on defending Final Third spatial and time control than physical control.

Their average number of Clearances also support that view as well.

When the Union lose they average 20 Clearances per game; when they draw they average 24 Clearances per game.

In this game against New England they had 42 Clearances – by far their largest single game output in Defensive Clearances.

For me this also indicates that they gave away some space and time outside the 18 yard box.

Additional information for consideration…

In games where the Union have lost, their opponents have averaged 17 crosses per game with a 26% success rate.

In games where they draw the Union opponents average 17 crosses per game with a 30% success rate.

In this game, against New England, the Revolution offered up 25 crosses (fourth most of all Union opponents this year) with a 32% success rate (also fourth best this year).

But with the higher than average number of clearances, success in those crosses is deceptive – the space was made available for the cross but the crosses were less effective and the higher than average number of Clearances would support that.

Finally, when looking at Shots Taken, the Revolution took 22 shots that game with only 8 on goal – that is the most shots taken against the Union this year.

Basically, that nuance about teams that take more shots have a lower percentage chance of scoring a goal paid off.

In closing…

That analysis probably doesn’t touch on every nuance that was different about this game and perhaps explain why the Union won – bottom line is they scored 3 goals and New England didn’t – but it does paint an interesting picture that supports how the predictability of each game doesn’t account for different tactical changes a Head Coach might make.

Best, Chris

Philadelphia Union – the plots thickens – Vartughian pushed out as well…

In case you missed it Philadelphia Union also sacked Rob Vartughian yesterday – one day after Hackworth got the boot.

Vartughian was an Assistant Coach and Technical Director.

I’m not sure what the Philadelphia Union organization means by calling someone a Technical Director but it’s my guess it has something to do with behind the scenes player performance and analysis – in scanning the list of names and titles working within the Front Office, for the Union, it doesn’t appear this organization has a branch called Player Performance and Statistical Analysis.  Maybe I missed it?

If Vartughian had responsibilities in this area perhaps he was sacked because he felt and thought the decision to remove John Hackworth was wrong/odd?

And if you read my analysis on Hackworth being sacked you’ll know my feelings and thoughts on that as well; my objective information continues to suggest that the Front Office decision was odd.

Now perhaps I’m way off target, but here’s some quotes from Nick Sakiewicz in an article recently published by the Philadelphia Union when asked about the sacking of John Hackworth…

“Honestly, up to that point (Saturday), I hadn’t thought about it,” Sakiewicz said. “I was 100 percent in John’s corner and we were trying to figure out a way together how we were going to get some three-point games under our belt. Saturday night was a big disappointment. I know it was great entertainment for you guys and TV with three unanswered goals to get a point. But again, I go back to our fans. They don’t deserve ties at home. They deserve victories.”

My take – while what he’s saying at the end is true I’m not sure I follow his logic throughout the sequence of what he said.

For me, if you’re running a team and you make a decision that will change the tenor and style of your team (that will also require a moderate change in player personnel, as well as some coaching staff) it usually means a reinvestment and redirection of money.

I would offer it’s a bit dubious to expect people to believe “Honestly, up to that point (Saturday) I hadn’t thought about it”

Another view – if Sakiewicz is really telling the truth, and that decision was made after that weekend of soccer, doesn’t it strike an odd chord that the Front Office reaction is a bit short-sighted?

Isn’t it reasonable to expect that an MLS franchise would have a long range business model that incorporates a tactical and strategic vision the organization wants to drive towards?

And if they weren’t driving towards a more possession-based style (as the data indicates) wouldn’t their be an expectation that it may take a bit longer to get there given the current player skill base?

But this isn’t the first time a Head Coach has been sacked mid-season.

Last year San Jose did the same thing to Frank Yallop.

His team performance indicators also seemed to point towards a more possession-based approach in lieu of a direct attacking approach.

Yallop got sacked and Mark Watson replaced him – for the rest of the year San Jose went right back to playing a direct style of soccer.

And do so this year as well…  Where is San Jose now?  Are they better off or worse off – hard to tell but they only have 16 points after 13 games played.

Sakiewicz goes on to offer these thoughts a bit later…

“We’re looking for experience,” Sakiewicz said. “We’re looking for a coach that has been there, done that, that has won and knows how to win championships in the modern MLS. We’ve got to have coaches and technical staff that can compete at that level, deal with the fan pressure, deal with the media pressure, because it’s not MLS of 10 years ago.”

Odd isn’t it that Sakiewicz indicates he wants a Head Coach who knows how to win in the modern MLS.

Again, for most, that’s probably a reference towards driving to an organizational vision that supports a possession-based style more than a direct attacking style.

And, as noted earlier, that is exactly the type of team performance indicators that Philadelphia has transitioned towards, this year, compared to last year.

An interesting injection in this quote is “We’ve got to have coaches and technical staff that compete at that level, deal with fan pressure, deal with the media pressure”.

Is Sakiewicz really saying that John Hackworth was sacked because he couldn’t deal with the fan and media pressure?

Or… is Sakiewicz really saying he’s allowing his organization, and the collective long range strategy of his organization, to be influenced by ‘poor dealings with media or fans’?

Or… is Sakiewicz saying the Front Office is having a hard time dealing with fan and media pressure and in order to alleviate that pressure they are sacking John Hackworth?  As cynical as it may sound it’s probably this one (door #3 Monty Hall)…

In closing…

If anything, I’d offer that article, the quotes within, and the combined actions of the last few days, send conflicting signals and should be a warning sign for other Head Coaches who might consider working for this organization.

I’d also offer there are significant communication issues between what is said (tactically and strategically) off the pitch versus how the team performs (tactically and strategically) on the pitch…

If this team were in Europe it is likely they would be relegated and punished for poor business acumen, but I’ll defer discussion on the relegation/promotion topic for another time.

Best, Chris