Having started the season in poor fashion, Montreal Impact coach Frank Klopas' job could already be in jeopardy.
The Montreal Impact haven’t gotten their third MLS season off to good start. After six games, they’re still looking for their first win of the campaign, and the overall performances of the team so far provide little cause for optimism.
As is often the case when a team doesn’t perform to expectations (not that anyone outside of the Impact was expecting a positive season) the head coach carries the blame, and the Impact certainly haven’t shied away from canning coaches in the past. They’ve also not been afraid to make changes on the go; over the last 15 years, five Impact coaches were fired in the middle of the season.
If Montreal’s history is anything to go by, then it’s likely that Klopas only has a couple games left to start turning things around.
But there are some factors that may deter the Impact from having Klopas depart prematurely.
For one, the Impact are very keen on changing the widespread perception that they’re short-fused and overly quick to dispense with coaches; that Klopas was given a relatively lengthy three-year contract was in large part due to this.
The second issue is that firing Klopas will be expensive. The Impact would have to pay Klopas’ salary for the next three seasons, and then on top of that they will still have to pay for Jesse Marsch, Marco Schällibaum and then for whomever they hire to replace Klopas. So if the Impact do part ways with Klopas they’ll be paying the wages of four coaches this season.
One cost-efficient alternative would be to finally promote current assistant coach Mauro Biello to head coach. An even less expensive option would be to bring back Schällibaum. As ridiculous and unlikely as that last suggestion sounds, having a previously fired coach return wouldn’t be an unprecedented move and it could make for a very entertaining situation. At least if you’re going to have a bad season, you might as well try and have some fun with it -- you can call it, “Part II: The Volcano Strikes Back”.
The Impact could always just hold on to Klopas no matter how dismal the season becomes, much like D.C. United did with Ben Olsen last year. D.C. had a pitiful record, only managing three wins the entire season, but the club stuck by Olsen and now they look like a much improved side, one that might even be ready to make a push for the playoffs.
It is, however, unlikely that the Impact will be able to be as patient, simply because their fans may force them into action. The Impact drew a little over 19,000 supporters at their last home game at the Olympic Stadium last weekend, and that figure will probably lessen when the team moves outdoors to Stade Saputo next weekend. The reality is that, with the exception of the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal sports fans are only interested in backing a winner, so as soon as the Impact become a loser, interest will rapidly decline. With less than 10,000 season tickets sold and the Impact heavily depending on individual tickets sales to fill the stadium, Stade Saputo could have plenty of empty seats this summer if the team’s fortunes don’t take a turn for the better.
And then the fans that are faithful, especially the hardcore ones called the “Ultras”, could very well start protesting at games and demand change, like they have done on several occasions in the past.
But despite their poor start, the Impact’s season is by no means over; they’re only four points behind a playoff spot and there are many games left to be played. At this point, even a single win would change the look of things, and that’s certainly what the club is praying for right now. However, if the current drought continues, things could get out of hand, and the Impact might feel compelled to make changes.
Fortunately the Canadiens are in the playoffs right now. If they need to let Klopas go, at least the story might not make the front page.
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