Heading for the Last Roundup

As you've surely heard by now, the RedBulls have swapped erratic striker Mac Kandji to the Rapids in return for erratic midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy.

Colorado evidently felt they needed a third striker, (in truth the best they had was a rookie out of Harvard who has, I believe, no goals at all. But hey, it's early) and since guys who can actually be relied upon to hit the net on a regular basis are a scarce commodity they settled for USL alumni Kandji, who Hans Backe has apparently concluded is excess to his requirements.

He looks like a forward. Moves like a forward. Seems to think like a forward. He just doesn't seem to, you know, score like a forward.

In return NYRB gets a complete cypher, a guy who's as frustrating to watch as any player in the league.

I don't mean that in the "Boy, it's really frustrating to have to sit here watching that dirt bag Dema Kovalenko get away with hacking, holding and - most likely - halitosis when what I'd really like to do is hop the rail and beat his face in with a tire iron" kind of frustration.

Rather, it's the "Boy, that guy looks like he ought to be tearing the place up, but wow does he suck" kind of frustration.

Often, when two teams swap a couple of relatively young players who have struggled under the burden of high expectations, it's a case of the teams involved deciding that the guy they're giving up either isn't ever going to make it or, conversely, they are tired of waiting and have decided to move on.

For the players involved, everyone makes a bunch of (cue Sheryl Crow) "a change will do him good" kind of noises, but more often than not the trade signals the inexorable slide from starter to sub to Open Cup cannon fodder to practice player to a couple of seasons for Miami FC.

You can argue about how one or both of them weren't "used correctly" by their respective coaches, but that's always seemed like thin sauce to me. A talented professional soccer player finds a way to have an impact wherever you put him, in whatever system you stick him in and with whatever teammates he finds himself on the pitch with.

That's not to say that some players don't do better in one position or another, but unless you're playing, say, a right footed target forward at left back or a diminutive ball-dealing 10 shirt type as your "bust 'em up" D Mid, he'll do good things for you.

It's one of the great things about soccer: it's hard to hide talent

And the bottom line is that neither of these guys have shown enough to warrant keeping around. Everyone will wish them luck in their new teams but it's hard to avoid the feeling that for both of them it's make or break time.

RE: the Massacre in Toronto, a lot of people - including RSL Head Coach Jason Kries - are saying that Preki was treated "unfairly"

(I note that absolutely nobody is saying the same thing about Johnston. Apparently Kreis feels he got exactly what he deserved)

Maybe so, but the truth is that the guy is obviously wrapped tighter than an airline sandwich and doesn't deal well with anyone who might question his authority.

Which is fine when you've got the chops, like Arena or Schmid, both of whom also have a "My way or the highway" attitude. The difference being - obviously - that they both have track records that scream "This guy knows what he's doing".

In any case, it was widely believed that one of the conditions of Prekis' hiring was a whole bunch of control over the roster, and he did indeed proceed to take an axe to same.

But much of the time you felt that he wasn't doing it to move out the non-hackers as much as clearing out anyone who was - or looked like he might - a challenge to Prekis' authority.

So Cartman - excuse me, I mean Predrag - got it all his own way and it's entirely fair to hold him responsible for the results.

In any case, the guy chose to go into coaching as a profession and sports history is positively jam-packed with the bodies of coaches who were "unfairly" fired from jobs where, truth be told, the players sucked, didn't give a damn and happily knifed him in the back rather than accept responsibility for the fact that it was their fault that the team stunk up the joint, not his.

However that may be, it seems that as much as anything Preki was fired by the fans, in the same way that Greg Andrulis was fired in Columbus, where they showered him with pink slips and everyone in the place - including club employees - had a hearty old laugh:

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySswMPCAiIA"]YouTube - Pink Slips for Greg Andrulis[/ame]

The difference is of course that Zippy the Pinhead had over three years on the job while Preki had about 8 months.

(One can only imagine the response in the BMO stands if Preki was still there in 2013, missing the playoffs once again.)

But the analogy still holds: when the relationship between the fans and the coach becomes this toxic, and the level of hate becomes visceral then the front office either has to install asbestos phone lines to handle the responses they're going to get when the agents start making renewal calls or they have to fire the coach.

To hell with fairness; fairness is a concept for children when you're divvying up jellybeans or taking turns riding a pony.

Was what happened up there entirely Prekis' fault? Of course not.

Did he have to go anyway? Yeah, he did.