Thanks to New York performing its traditional big-game throat-clutch, United now faces a de facto one-game playoff with Columbus for the right to (probably) face them again in the real playoffs.
I am going to say something now that is going to sound like hyperbole, but it is the complete and honest truth.
Tom Soehn’s future and entire record with DC United rests on this single match.
Never have I seen a situation such as this one where one match has the importance and ability to singularly define a coach’s tenure. This match will, all at one, show:
- If Soehn can get these guys motivated to play for him on the big days
- If Soehn can keep their heads up even if they face some adversity (Imagine if we’re scored against, or God forbid have a man sent off)
- If Soehn has the tactical chops to make the right changes at the right times during a match
- If Soehn has the ability to gameplan for an opponent in order to isolate and even eliminate their best player(s) from being effective
All of that hinges, rightly or wrongly, on Sunday’s match.
If United comes out and wins pretty much in any manner other than a 95th minute Crew own goal after United is thoroughly outplayed the whole time, Soehn will rightly be able to say that he should retain his position because look at all the crap he’s had to deal with this season. He’ll be able to say that when it counted and when he had a rested and reasonably fit lineup to work with, he was able to get the job done.
If United loses, pretty much for any reason other than outright referee incompetence on the level of it costing United multiple goals and/or multiple players, quite simply he will have shown he is not a good enough manager at this level to keep his position.
Rightly or wrongly, every United supporter is going to remember this match as it relates to Soehn. Either this will be the last straw, or it will be the moment when he showed, and frankly surprised, everyone with his ability to come through when it absolutely counted most.