If you were like me when I saw the roster that Coach Wolff put out there Saturday against the Galaxy, then you felt betrayed. I could have been at a Moontower Comedy show instead, but my passion for Austin FC won out, and by halftime of that game, I knew I made the wrong decision.
That team played the worst soccer I've seen from the club on Saturday. No fire. No passion. No technique. Did any of the forwards even touch the ball? I don't remember. This team needs a shake-up. BAD! But to what degree? Our very passionate fan base seems to have come to a consensus over the last few weeks:
FIRE HIM AND MAYBE KILL HIM?
It doesn't feel rash to fire Josh anymore. This team is in need of some change, and the most nuclear change would be to axe our Pixar Dad and bring someone else in. Some new blood with a different mindset and vigor might change things for us this year.
I think we should fire Wolff, if we're trying to save this season, but how much can a new coach save. There's a uncertainty about changing coaches. Sure, there's a possibility that this team does a good job in the hiring process, and we bring in a better coach. But, we don't even have a Sporting Director, and haven't for months. So who's going to make this hire?
What is a new coach going to bring that Wolff currently can't? Change is one thing, but this roster is bad. It's injured. Even a great coach could probably only inch us into the playoffs with this team's attacking talent.
So, do we just kill him?
It won't solve the problem. I sense that the real issue this season has been the lack of a Sporting Director, even when Reyna was sensible and at the helm. Since our first season, we've been unable upgrade talent at almost every position, except the Driussi position and one CB spot. Here's the list of players we've added since our first season, categorized their quality in my eyes:
Good starting MLS talent
Volatile Quality averaging out to Okay MLS talent
Sofiane Djeffal (still unsure as he doesn't play enough)
Below Average MLS talent
Unplayable MLS talent
The off-season we had last year led us all to believe that we could do that regularly. Had Reyna not been a crazy person, we may have been able to replicate this again this year, but I don't feel like Reyna was going to do it again. He signed Rigoni last year. And Rigoni sucks. He paid Valencia a LOT of money and he's barely a backup. He signed Redes, Djitte, Corozo and all have been barely playable to unplayable in the MLS. These are important roster spots, and they've been wasted.
So, as much as I would like to see Wolff fired, I don't think that solves anything long term. A real Sporting Director would plug a lot of holes in the damn. Assessing Wolff is difficult because of the state of the roster right now, and firing him would be an emotional move, and not calculated. At least at this time. I think he'll be around the rest of this season, regardless of your feelings.
God, do I have to compromise?
Yes. Probably. There's a backbone built with Wolff that would irreparably be destroyed by a new coach. It's seems stupid to say, but the FC II team is killing it. That's part of Wolff's system. If a new style is brought in, does that style fit how we've been building the youth squad? I just talked about a lack of talent, and if we set back out youth team, where are we going to get our talent from? Paraguay?
We seem to forget that Wolff has injected some change in the past that fixed a broken team. When we first brought in Driussi, this team still struggled. His talent didn't fix any of our problems. He wasn't fitting into the 4-3-3 we were running, and that lineup wasn't working. Wolff evolved. He changed his system to revolve around Driussi's talent and created a true 10 in the lineup for him. That happened near the end of our first season the results were positive, and that propelled us to that hot start the next.
What this team needs now is change. And it doesn't need to be the nuclear option (yet), but it needs to happen if we hope to save this season.
Fresh Blood: We need to consider using our bench, and our youth. If the old heads (Rigoni, Zardes etc) can't get the job done, we need to be willing to bring in players from the FC DOS. This team needs some fire and some youthful joy. Start Fodrey, or Valentin or any of the great talent we're developing down there. It's not so much that these players will play better, but that they will play with spirit. Hell, even start Redes. He's playing with some heat, even if it's not controlled.
Shake up the formation. I've talked about this here, but even if it's not the move back to the 4-3-3, something needs to change at least to throw the opponents game plan off. I want to see Wolff evolve his style of play again, and I just don't feel like he's tried hard enough to do this.
Do something fun with these players. This team is stressed, and rightfully so. This team needs to go boating with Diego. Go out and do some blow on West 6th. I dunno. Just go have some fun. I want to see fun on the pitch, and that starts with being a fun team. The loss of Felipe Martins sucked all the fun from this team. We need to find it again.
San Jose games have notoriously been chaotic, and awful for us. We've blown leads to them multiple times, in embarrassing fashion. We've been ref-balled and ruined by that team. I expect the same on Saturday, and that's exactly why I have some hope for Saturday. The Soccer Gods are cruel, but also quite ironic at times. We might see the chaos leave us with a win. God I hope so. We all need it. Like a 60 year old virgin needs a prostitute.