What is the main job of a coach or manager?
After the obvious answer of “winning,” the
right answer is some variation of “getting the best out of his players.”
In soccer, that means getting your best players on
the field for the maximum amount of time in a formation that suits them.
This discussion came up after yesterday’s
post on Amobi Okugo, and the ensuing debate about
why high-priced defender Bakary Soumare isn’t playing.
I assumed manager John Hackworth had some sort of
unknown problem with Soumare’s effort or form, thus leaving him on
the bench and soon-to-be-or-already-there breakout star Amobi Okugo
in an unnatural centerback position.
Then I was alerted to these Hackworth quotes, courtesy
of Ryan Bright at CSNPhilly.com:
"Although he’s not playing with us
right now, Baky has done well here. If it weren’t for Amobi Okugo
playing so well, Baky would be on the field. Sometimes it’s hard to
understand why Baky has not started or played for us, but it’s not
because Baky isn’t in good form. It’s purely because we have [Okugo
and Jeff Parke] in front of him who are playing very well…It’s just
been coach’s decision. Baky is not exactly happy with that decision
and I don’t expect any player to be. The fact is, he’s a good pro,
he comes to work every single day and does everything we ask. But at
the end of the day we have to make tough choices."
That’s even more disconcerting, to be honest.
Hackworth likes Soumare and wishes he could get him
on the field. But Okugo is “playing so well,” that he can’t do
He can do it. As I mentioned
It’s Hackworth’s job to get his best players on
the field. Especially in the backline, where in-game substitutions are
rare, letting a high-priced talent like Soumare sit on the bench when
you could make a simple lineup adjustment to fix it, is perplexing.
Think outside the box a little bit, John.
Philadelphia Union (1-1-0, 3 points) vs. New England
Revolution (1-0-0, 3 points)
5 p.m., PPL Park, Chester, Pa. – TV: The Comcast
Today’s Opponent, in Limerick Form:
The Revs, they used to have Benny,
Wins vs. Philly? Not any.
Bengtson broke American hearts
When he scored in Central American parts
Boos his way? I see many
Real Facts About Today’s Opponent:
The Revs have only played one game so far, an impressive
1-0 win on the road in Chicago. Bengtson, who scored for Honduras in
its win against the United States in a recent World Cup qualifier, will
be the focus up front, while you might need your roster card to identify
the rest of the New England lineup.
Goalie Matt Reis is tough to beat, and you can expect
the Revs to defend hard at PPL Park in an attempt to get their first
win ever over the Union.
A Real Fact About Today’s Opposing City:
I went to school in Boston. I refuse to acknowledge
the Revs as being from Boston. You think Chester is far from Philadelphia?
Foxborough seems like another country when you try to get there from
Boston. According to CityTownInfo.com, Foxborough “was the birthplace
of the world's largest straw hat factory, Union Straw Works.”
The Player Most Likely to Doop:
I’m going to go off the grid a little and go with
Michael Farfan today. Of course that means he’ll get hurt in the 10th
minute and have to go off.
Prediction Sure to Be Way Off:
I’m 0-2 on predictions this year, so don’t take
this one to Vegas. But I’m feeling confident. We’ll say a goal from
Michael Farfan and two from Le Toux:
Union 3, Revolution 1