Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Value of Patience

It's a bit funny, though completely understandable, to see Galaxy fans pull their hair out through this season. After all, we are carrying the painful memory of three years without playoffs.

Even more comical though, are the early calls for "more of the same" from those who are already foolishly asking for Bruce Arena's head and asking that Jurgen Klinsman come in and take over the team.

And I say foolishly because the attitudes represented herein are powerfully reminiscent of those same attitudes exhibited by Federacion Mexicana de Futbol directives who, faced with a generous playoff system, have abandoned all long term planning in favor of continuous, repetitive, and obnoxiously frequent transfer-window shuffles and bi-yearly coaching changes.

However, this year's playoffs in Mexico reflected perhaps a change in that paradigm is finally on the horizon. The top teams in Mexico with the sole exception of Monterrey (who were promptly booted out in the first round of the playoffs) were all sides that had given their coaches continuity.

Pachuca had enjoyed it's most successful spell ever under Meza for three years. UNAM on the other hand had put up with struggles, hardships, and rebuilding with Ricardo "El Tuca" Ferrito who finally led them to the league title.

Toluca has had Jose Manuel De La Torre as manager since the start of the 2008-2009 cycle and have agreed to keep him on for the Fall 2009 season.

Puebla, the "I know I can, I know I can" team that fought out of relegation only to fall in the semifinals has had their manager Jose Luis "Chelis" Sanchez Sola for three years, and the other Cinderella team Ciudad Juarez have had the same manager since the start of the 2008-2009 season.

And it's spreading... Club America, the biggest offender in this regard in the past year or so with 5 managers in the past two years (Romano, Brailowsky, Luna, Diaz and Ramirez) have finally allowed Jesus Ramirez continuity despite his inability to get the team into the playoffs yet again.

The team formerly known as Tecos UAG (now Estudiantes Tecos), one of the teams who historically have been managerial revolving doors, have also allowed their head coach Miguel Herrera to continue into next season.

Mexican sides seem to have finally started learning the lesson.

And it's not that you have to obstinately hang on to a manager that isn't working out. Pachuca officials warned Meza before the season, after having failed to reach the Club World Cup Final, and having crashed out of the Copa Libertadores in qualifying, that if he did not obtain the championship, his cycle as a Tuzo would come to an end.

Meza managed to keep the Tuzos in first place through most of the season, and finished the year off in the top spot, but his inability to win the Tuzos' 6th title (losing the final to Pumas) cost him his job. (Perhaps this may seem fully illogical to some, but Pachuca's aspirations are others and Pachuca, even without Meza, will continue to be a headliner in Mexico, much to the dismay of some).

The point here is working in cycles, and in MLS that's much easier to do considering there is no relegation. A Championship team cannot be built in one year, and a clear example of that is Sigi Schmid.

When Sigi first signed with Columbus everybody expected him to turn the team around, and that he did, but in due time, and not without having finished in the basement of the Eastern Conference twice.

Bruce Arena is building the team rather quickly, quicker even than I would have imagined, but in all likelihood, Los Angeles will not be MLS Cup Champions this year. Even so, standing at the face of progress, it's absolutely barbaric and idiotic to be calling for yet another manager's head.

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