Results just weren’t up to par.
Late on Saturday night, Frank Klopas became the first MLS head coach to be let go in 2015 after the Montreal Impact relieved him of his duties. Results are what matters in professional sports, said Impact vice-president Richard Legendre, who met the media alongside technical director Adam Braz on Sunday afternoon.
And Montreal’s results in the second third of the season prompted the club to part ways with a third coach in their four-year history as an MLS club, after Jesse Marsch and Marco Schallibaum.
“In the last 11 games, we picked up 11 points, and that’s just not satisfactory,” Legendre told reporters. “We only won once in seven games in the month of August, which we’d identified as crucial. Four were at home and we didn’t win once. … We need to finish with better results in the last third of the season.”
Montreal are currently seventh in the Eastern Conference with 28 points from 23 games. Sixth-placed Orlando, for their part, have 29 points from 27 games. But despite the games in hand, the Impact face a tough challenge with 11 games in 51 days.
“The games in hand aren’t guaranteed good results,” Legendre said. “We need new results, new momentum. New leadership can bring us that new momentum.”
It was tough to pinpoint exactly what didn’t work of late, said Braz, who ensured that Frank Klopas worked hard to prepare the team tactically and technically. It was only last April that Montreal were playing a CONCACAF Champions League final, and this is an achievement that the club values.
But not only did Montreal fail to qualify for CCL in the Amway Canadian Championship final second leg last Wednesday in Vancouver, but they lost at archrivals Toronto FC, 2-1, on Saturday. In the league, Braz explained, the club expected to be in a better position in the standings at this point.
“There’s a very fine line between winning and losing,” Braz said. “When the results start going the wrong way, changing the momentum is tough. With 11 games left, the club thought that it needed to make that decision to change results, because even with the games in hand, without points, we can be out of the playoffs.”
Impact vice-president of international relations and technical development Nick De Santis told Klopas that he’d been sacked by phone, late on Saturday night. Given that De Santis had recruited Klopas, Legendre argued, it was “more natural” for De Santis to give him the bad news.
Club president Joey Saputo, for his part, spoke to Klopas on Sunday. Saputo, Legendre, De Santis and Braz made the decision to let Klopas go together.
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In the meantime, assistant coach Mauro Biello has been promoted as interim head coach. Biello has gone 2-2-4 in MLS in the last four years, as he took over coaching duties from the various Montreal coaches that got suspended.
Legendre and Braz displayed their full trust in Biello, who has been with the Impact as a player or coach since the club’s inaugural season in 1993, a stint with the Rochester Raging Rhinos in 1999 aside. He is expected to have free reign over on-field decisions for the first team – while Montreal have mostly played 4-2-3-1 this season, Biello is free to change things up, Braz assured.
“Mauro has his ideas,” Braz said. “He’s got experience as an assistant. He knows the group, the players’ characters. He knows what to expect from them.”
Biello will remain the interim head coach until the end of the season.
“Then we’ll analyze the situation and make a more permanent decision,” Braz said.