Today a conglomerate of media, players, and team staff voted Jesse Marsch MLS Coach of the Year, and for my tastes, it's an award deservedly conferred upon Mr. Marsch. Mr. Marsch entered a situation in flux- Thierry Henry retired, Tim Cahill was released, and the GM and hometown hero Mike Petke were released of their duties. Despite these obstacles, Marsch led his team to the Supporters' Shield in 2015, and he deserves accolades. That said, Marsch's wins should be scrutinized thusly:
1. Expansion teams were terrible: Red Bull enjoyed 3 extra matches against expansion franchises NYCFC and Orlando City SC. Neither of these teams made the playoffs.
2. Non-Expansion teams in the East were worse: As rough as the inaugural seasons were for Orlando City SC and NYCFC, Philly and Chicago deserved relegation. There's an extra 4 games against the hapless.
3. Short travel in the Eastern Conference: Trips to DC, Philly, and the Bronx are easily navigated by bus. The big trips to Chicago, Columbus, and Canada pale in comparison to the globetrotting FCD does.
In short, Marsch's inaugural season with Red Bull was a good set up for post season recognition. Say what you will about media bias (and there's probably at least a sliver of truth there), but Red Bull won the Supporters' Shield despite a full blown revolt by the supporters. That said:
- FC Dallas matched Red Bull on points.
- FC Dallas did so minus a DP and minus a cavalcade of plus-level MLS vets.
- FC Dallas accomplished top of the charts despite an overall superior strength of schedule..
- FC Dallas's achievements were earned almost exclusively by draftees, homegrown players, and young discoveries from South America.
If we're being honest, Papi deserved a shout for his work in Colorado in 2013. Last year, when FCD was favored to be part of the dregs, he should have been acknowledged for making the playoffs. This year, when the club was on the fence, Pareja should have been championed for reaching the ultimate goal. That said, we're anointing the lottery winner from the Eastern Conference, because well, it's hard to boss a bunch of weak squads after taking on big-Energy Drink fan groups. That's just how it is.
Do you think Papi cares? My guess is no, and that's probably because he gets a base line level of satisfaction from prepping the locals daily. Pareja's club, despite a rough trip to Portland, is one good game from earning a place in the MLS Cup Final. I can't imagine Pareja sweating postseason awards when he's got a pack of his guys playing for advancement this Sunday. Papi doesn't need your stinking trophy.