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SBI View: Should Tom Soehn be feeling the heat?


Is D.C. United head coach Tom Soehn really on thin ice? D.C. is off to a nightmarish 2-6 start which hit a new low on Saturday night when Chivas USA scored three unanswered goals to post a 3-1 victory.

The start is not exactly what the club envisioned when it invested so many resources into signing a crop of new players, including designated player Marcelo Gallardo.

So should Soehn be in danger of losing his job already, just eight games into the season?

I don’t think so.

While he certainly played his part in signing the players the team brought in, and he has been responsible for the lineup decisions this year, Soehn has also had to deal with some major injuries as well as the difficult process of integrating so many new players into the team. This has been made even more difficult because of the absence of injured midfielder Ben Olsen, easily the strongest leader on the roster.

Soehn deserves a full season to sort things out because it has looked at times as if the team’s problems are more a product of having the wrong players rather than the wrong approach or a lack of motivation. D.C. will eventually have Fred back healthy, and will either have Olsen back or a chance to replace him in the summer transfer window. As bad as the start has been this season, we are still talking MLS, where winning and losing streaks happen all the time and you need only look back to last season to find a Houston team that overcame a 2-5-1 start to win an MLS Cup title.

Might D.C. really consider a change in mid-season? I really don’t think so. While the club does have new owners, team president Kevin Payne is still in charge and he hasn’t built his reputation as one of the league’s best executives by making panicked decisions.

Soehn should get a full season to solve the problems the team is facing. If he can’t turn things around, and if the struggles continue all season, then it will be time for a change. The club already has an ideal candidate in the area in former coach Bruce Arena, who looks rested, recharged and ready to get back into the coaching game, but that move can wait.

For now, it is Soehn’s team and he deserves the chance to right the ship.

(What do you think of Soehn’s status at D.C. United? Share your thoughts below.)


  1. if DC wants to win, Soehn should go.

    if they are happy in the cellar, he should stay..He is constantly outcoached, team looks unmotivated, its hard for a team to play for to coach who was all about himself in his playing days.. it now shows.

  2. Every team deal with injuries, and call ups, and bad ref decisions, and yadda, yadda, yadda. Excuses. Losers make excuses; winners find ways to overcome the obstacles. You either win, or you don’t.

  3. Actually, the Red Bulls fire their coach every year, too, so I guess records don’t make all that much difference.

    I actually mostly blame the FO, which hasn’t drafted well and hasn’t built depth for several years, as a prime reason the club can’t withstand injuries.

  4. Dear kpugs:

    We have given Soehn a full year. he did great.

    However, 2-6 cannot be compared to what Bruce Arena did. If I’m not mistaken, the Pink Cows finished last in the East in 06. I do believe they were 3rd last year. Soehn has done the exact opposite: top to bottom. And we should PRAISE him??? Hey, just because your team has never won anything doesn’t mean the rest of us shouldn’t have high expectations.

  5. I’m not a knee jerk guy, but I just don’t think Soehn is a very good coach. It’d be unfair to give him less than half the season at least, but I really don’t think he’s going to turn it around. The team might start to play better, but regardless, I think they’d be better off with a different coach.

  6. I haven’t decided yet if Tommy should be fired or not, generally I err on the side of continuity. That said a question I have had since they hired the guy is what level of tactical understanding does the guy have? I know he was a player, but he was a run of the mill hard working MLS defender. He could be the exception but most of those type lack a greater understanding of the rythm and tactics of a well played soccer game. They know how to pester and shut down creative players but not how to grow creativity in attack. They favor hard work over individual ingenuity required to unlock a bunkering defense. Watching his teams I have yet to see evidence that he is any different than this stereotype. Every midfielder’s first look is to pass back to defense when under pressure, and after every loss the answer is the guys need to work harder, we need more intensity. I don’t buy it, in my experience the more skillful and creative players do not play well in rigid formations saddled with lots of responsibilities. DC is traditionally a Latin flavored club that I speculate does better with a style that allows the players the freedom to analyse situations as they arise and adjust accordingly, not mindlessly follow orders from the coach. I think you are seeing that on the field now as Martinez, Peralta, and Gallardo get frustrated and can’t sync with players like Namoff and Burch who do the coaches commands well but are oblivious to the rythm of the game. So I see it as you can go two ways, load the team up with Josh Gros clones and work other teams off the field or bring in a coach more in tune with advanced tactics and willing to give the players freedom to improvise. Also this isn’t a Latin players vs American players argument I think guys like Tino, Simms, Kirk, Dyachenko, could thrive under a coach who can teach them to play with joy instead of playing 1,000 miles an hour all the time.

    This is NOT Bruce Arena by the way, too stubborn and I feel soccer in America has progressed beyond his tactics and he failed to adjust.

  7. This isn’t the first time that Soehn’s had problems.

    -strike 1: slow start in ’07

    -strike 2: playoff bust in ’07

    -strike 3?: even slower start in ’08?

  8. Well, if I were being objective in Soehn’s performance review, I would say give the man more time.

    Unfortunately for Mr. Soehn, this is football, and it is hardly ever objective. While I feel that he is hard done by with injuries, you have to be able to adapt to player losses (particularly in MLS) if you want to be successful. My opinion is that he should be let go. It might not exactly be fair, but it seems to me that the players aren’t giving everything that they have for him. That to me is far more disturbing than the results. I believe he’s lost the plot, and while the team shows well for a half here and there, it just isn’t enough. It is true that a mean winning streak can change the fortunes of the club in this league. However, the more teams that come into the league, the more difficult it will become to stay within striking distance of a playoff spot. With the new league rules of 3 conference teams guaranteed a playoff spot (which seems to me to be totally set up to favor the Galaxy) the pressure mounts on the bottom feeders of the Eastern conference. If the point difference climbs over the 12 point margin between 3rd place and DC, then there is certainly trouble brewing. I also believe that the influx of foreign talent is going to stabilize the streakiness of the league. (I believe we’re getting very close to the point where teams after matchday 9 that are on bottom tend to hover in the lower part of the table all season) I believe a change of mentality is needed. Maybe the summer transfer window can help, but there is only so much spending that can be done to try to fix things. Ultimately, I believe that Soehn won’t be at United past August. (particularly if this trend continues) We’ll see soon enough.

  9. No Ben Olsen, no stripes, no longer the dominate force it used to be. Kinda reminds me of the Chicago Bulls after Jordan retired… both times.

  10. Tommy Soehn, it was nice knowing you..take care. 2 wins in 8 games and behind – something isn’t working motivation/organization/direction.

    Bring el Bruce, back!

  11. He has to change his formation, he needs four in the back. Three defenders just aren’t doing the job for this team. But, that too, isn’t going to help that offense. Though Gallardo is finally playing in the spot the team needs him to play. Closer to goal and virtually no defensive responsibility.

  12. DC United has gone through numerous formations this season to try to find the perfect fit with the addition to all these new transfers. And it looks like Tommy Soehn hasnt found the right match yet. To me there are a few factors contributing to DCs downfall. One, is the loss of Christian Gomez. Two, the lack of passion and effort of the club (especially Luciano Emilio). And finally the injury of key player Fred. Everyone is complaining and crying about how Ben Olsen is the heart and soul of the team – but if you have ever watched a DC match – you can defiently see that Fred brings a lot of momentum and strength to the team. I also believe that ever since the loss to Pachuca in the semis, the club’s momentum has just gone downhill. I say Tommy Soehn has one month to bring DC around – if not – looks like Bruce Arena will be back… damn.

  13. Soehn should be feeling the heat.

    Isn’t this his 3rd year? DC have not won any trophies with him have they? I think all the adversity are excuses. If injuries were a problem, Stevie Nicol could have just written this season off, but his team are still getting results with rookies.

    With the support that DC gets from its fans, they deserve more.

    He does not have the bricklayers he had in Olsen, Gros, or Carroll. He has a lot of piano players on this team. I think it boils down to tactics. He is being outcoached.

  14. actually kpugs he contradicted himself at all. He said there is still time to turn things around so give Soehn 5 more games(which is roughly a month). At which point the time to turn things around will be diminishing quickly so if things haven’t improved then you fire Soehn. This makes sense as this will give the new coach time to assess the squad and make changes before the end of the summer transfer window.

  15. At the end of the day, who was responsible for the decision on Christian Gomez? Was it Soehn or was it Payne? Injuries have hurt the team’s perfomance but losing Gomez as far as I can see has been the single biggest reason for DC’s struggles.

  16. So Freddy, people shouldn’t get worked up but he should be fire, gotcha. Contradict yourself much?

    Give him at least one full season. Are DC fans this spoiled that they’re calling for this guy’s job?

    The same DC fans that mercilessly ripped RBNY for canning Arena after a full season and the playoffs? Hypocrites.

  17. Soehn should be let go.

    It’s true that injuries and scheduling and so many new additions have played a part in DC’s wretchedness. But that only tells part of the story.

    The other part is that systemically, DC is just awful right now. They have players (like Santino Quaranta) playing badly out of position. Then when they mess up, the coach calls them out to the press. Unacceptable.

    Soehn insists on using a 3-5-2 when the backs, while quality, are too slow to thrive and the wide midfielders, who in that system carry much defensive responsibility, are converted forwards. They are just incapable of succeeding with that system.

    You can’t blame Emilio’s appalling rustiness on Soehn. But this year he routinely collects the ball at midfield and tries to run at defense. He just isn’t good in that role. Again, systemically it just ain’t working.

    Worse, there is no passion at all. When opponents score, United gives up. It’s been a running theme all year and exhibit A would be Marsch’s goal for Chivas on Saturday night. Having Fred or Olsen back would add a lot of heart, but the coach is, more than any one else, responsible for that.

    This team, on paper, is as good or better than any other team in the league. They should hire someone who can fire these guys up; someone who can provide passion. A bilingual speaker would be ideal.

    Someone like Marco Etcheverry.

  18. Ives, don’t forget what a dreadful job Soehn did in the playoffs last year. His lack of creativity in determining appropriate line-ups to go against the opposition is constant – despite the injury issues. Take a look at Goff’s blog posts over the past few weeks to get a full grasp of the issues. Tom is consistently outcoached. He has to go. It’s only a matter of time. A better coach could do more with this team.

  19. People also seem to forget that DC had a crappy start to the season last year and they turned it around to win the Supporter’s Shield. It’s to early in the season so there’s no reason they can’t do it again.


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