When the “MLS Is Back” Tournament was launched, the thought of coaches and players being overly judged due to player and team performance was a source of discussion.
With the challenges of COVID-19, the star attraction in the “bubble,” how could judgement be passed heavily on performance?
Some even said coaches and players will get a fair “pass.”
Now, a tournament with an * leaves teams and players opportunity to make an impression and get something out of it.
Players like Jeremy Ebobisse of Portland, Chris Mueller of Orlando City, and Ayo Akinola of TFC all had “eye” popping moments that brought them to attention with their play.
Jaap Stam, the FC Cincy coach, helped to bring a bit of joy to the mangled mess they have been by defending deep and helping them advance to the knockout stage.
The fact is that judgement can and will be passed at this tournament and opportunity always exists.
So on to Atlanta United.
Huge fan base, major high bar set with the Tata Martino years and attractive football.
Frank de Boer even took the club to two trophies last year.
Healthy pressure exists in Atlanta, even in when it comes to the MLS Is Back tournament.
It just was not good enough for fans, press and ultimately the club.
The fans ultimately had a say in the future of Frank de Boer as their manager. After all, they are the customers and any good club is a whole are good “listeners.”
While many did not think a coach could lose a job at this MLS tournament, we were proved otherwise.
Healthy pressure in local markets, and at clubs from media and fans, is a necessary ingredient for relevancy and this comes in a very mixed bag across the league in various cities.
The de Boer parting of ways reminds us that healthy pressure must thrive in MLS for the sake of clubs, coaches and players.
This was a move that we would see from a big club in Europe.
The clubs that embrace it and grow it ultimately will be the most relevant.