Understandably, Colorado Rapids fans are pissed off right now. Their team has completely given up on the style of soccer they'd been promising for so long, (callbacks, yo!) their coach seems to somehow be getting worse at tactics as time goes on, and the team is currently in the midst of a season that, were it not for a three-game winning streak that came out of nowhere, would be on pace to be the worst in the team's history. Hell, they can't even draw matches anymore and are on a two-game losing streak where they blew a 1-0 lead in both matches.
This has brought back the calls to fire Pablo Mastroeni. Rapids fans have been tooting that horn for quite a while, and it's really not surprising. The first inclination for pretty much every sports fan when the team is not doing well is to call for the coach's head. All that said, though, I don't think there's any reason to let loose the coach right now.
If the Rapids were still in it, that might be a different story, but this team hasn't really been in the playoff race for weeks now. The Western Conference is stacked this season, and even six or seven more wins -- a hilariously lofty goal for this team at the moment -- might not yield enough points to get them back into the playoff race with just about everyone else either working from a large point stock (Sounders) or playing well enough to keep plenty of pace.
Since the Rapids are not making the playoffs this season. Let's say Pablo does get fired, tomorrow. So Pablo's out and they manage to find someone to replace him. Maybe it's Claudio Lopez, maybe it's one of the guys we had expected to take the job in a coaching search after Oscar Pareja left, guys like Robin Fraser and John Spencer.
Here's the main reason he shouldn't get fired right now: We know that there won't be any time for an actual coaching search for his replacement, or at least enough time to run through anyone but the usual candidates, none of whom have particularly sterling MLS records. Considering the complaints we had about the Rapids hiring Mastroeni with, as far as we could tell, only a sham of a coaching search besides, I see no reason why we would ever want to force the team into another situation that's just the same.
When the new guy comes in, there are only two possible scenarios.
He's fired right now and the replacement coach does well
This is a very likely option. It's a well-known fact that teams do tend to improve at least a bit when a new spark, like a coaching change, is instituted in crunch time. Why do you think there's a coaching carousel at the bottom of every league in England near the end of the season? Tim Sherwood did it with Aston Villa last season, Dougie Freedman did it with Crystal Palace a few years back, and that's just two examples I came up with on the spot.
The 'new coach effect', however, can be disastrous for the long-term in a league with no promotion or relegation. So the team rides a spark from the new gaffer to the end of the year, most likely still missing the playoffs but not by quite as much. So a coaching search is skipped as the new coach stays on. But what if the good ending to the season really is just the new coach effect? That's another year or two wasted if the Rapids hire someone who has a nice end to his first season and then shits the bed when faced with an off-season and a full start. That sounds even more frustrating than what we've got now.
He's fired right now and the replacement coach does the same or worse
This team has been disjointed all season long, and you can't blame Pablo for 100% of what we're seeing. After all, he's not the one playing the matches. There's no guarantee that a new coach would be able to pull the team together and get that many more points than they were before. A new coach might even end up coaching a worse defense, as Pablo's only legitimate strength seems to be his ability to organize a defense, Tony Pulis style. Would you really rather be losing games 4-1 again instead of 2-1 or 1-0?
If the new coach can't pull the team together, then what was the point? They'll rid themselves of him at the end of the season just as they would have to Pablo -- remember, this post takes place in an alternate universe where Pablo does get sacked as the season ends and there's no chance of a third season of bumblefuckery -- and then we're right back at square one for absolutely no reason.
So is there really any reason to get rid of Mastroeni now? Unless you're legitimately scared that he's suddenly going to improve his coaching by such an amazing margin that the team is going to finally click and tear through the rest of the year, guaranteeing him a third season in charge, I see none.