How do MLS teams fare after midseason coaching changes?

Adrian Heath - Orlando City SC - Bummed

Orlando City SC parted ways with Adrian Heath on Wednesday night, firing the only head coach in club history after their 4-4-8 start to the season was punctuated by Monday’s 4-0 loss at FC Dallas.  

Excluding Owen Coyle's departure from Houston earlier this year, Heath’s dismissal marks the 12th time an MLS team has made a midseason coaching change since the start of the 2012 season. Unsurprisingly, only once in the previous 11 instances did a team that made a midseason change go on to qualify for the postseason. That came last year, when the Montreal Impact went on a remarkable 7-2-2 run after replacing Frank Klopas with Mauro Biello shortly after acquiring Didier Drogba to finish third in the Eastern Conference.

That history isn’t all that instructive, however. After all, if teams were in a good position to qualify for the playoffs, they probably wouldn’t be making a coaching change in the first place.

It’s more instructive to look at how teams performed before and after making their change. Those numbers should be a bit more comforting for Orlando fans, as six of the nine teams that made midseason coaching changes with more than five regular season games remaining since 2012 registered a better points per game average after their coaching switch.

In addition to last year's Impact, the 2013 San Jose Earthquakes and 2014 Philadelphia Union both performed well after making midseason coaching changes. The Quakes were very strong after Frank Yallop resigned and was replaced by Mark Watson in 2013, going 11-5-3 in 19 games under Watson to finish the season with 51 points. The Union were also solid after replacing John Hackworth with Jim Curtin in June 2014, posting a 7-5-6 regular season record after the change and making a run to the US Open Cup final. 

All the before and after numbers for the 11 midseason coaching changes made in MLS since 2012 (again, Houston's recent change from Coyle to Wade Barrett isn't included) are below: 

Coaching change
Record/PPG pre-change
Record/PPG post-change
2015 Chicago Fire<br> Out: Frank Yallop<br> In: Brian Bliss
7-16-6 (0.93)
1-4-0 (0.5)
2015 Montreal Impact<br> Out: Frank Klopas<br> In: Mauro Biello
8-11-4 (1.22)
7-2-2 (2.09)
2014 San Jose Earthquakes<br> Out: Mark Watson<br> In: Ian Russell
6-15-11 (0.91)
0-1-1 (0.5)
2014 Toronto FC<br> Out: Ryan Nelsen<br> In: Greg Vanney
9-9-5 (1.39)
2-6-3 (0.82)
2014 Philadelphia Union<br> Out: John Hackworth<br> In: Jim Curtin
3-7-6 (0.94)
7-5-6 (1.5)
2013 Columbus Crew<br> Out: Robert Warzycha<br> In: Brian Bliss
8-13-5 (1.12)
4-4-0 (1.5)
2013 San Jose Earthquakes<br> Out: Frank Yallop<br> In: Mark Watson
3-6-6 (1.0)
11-5-3 (1.90)
2013 Chivas USA<br> Out: Chelis<br> In: Jose Luis Real
3-7-2 (0.92)
3-13-6 (0.68)
2012 Portland Timbers<br> Out: John Spencer<br> In: Gavin Wilkinson
5-8-4 (1.12)
3-8-6 (0.88)
2012 Philadelphia Union<br> Out: Peter Nowak<br> In: John Hackworth
2-7-2 (0.73)
8-11-4 (1.22)
2012 Toronto FC<br> Out: Aron Winter<br> In: Paul Mariner
1-9-0 (0.3)
4-12-8 (0.83)