Revolution Re-Org: Setting The Bar

Let’s start with the obvious… soccer bloggers, including (maybe especially) those that track the New England Revolution, love a controversy.

Better yet, a conspiracy.

I do what I can not to jump on most of the conspiracy theory bandwagons. Really, I try.

I’ll admit it though, some are hard to avoid. Whether they are too fun, too plausible or too humorous to stay away from, the gravitational pull of many conspiracy theories drag you into their vortex of crazy.

Given all that, I’m a bit surprised that what I’m about to postulate hasn’t been out in the blogoshere yet. (Disclaimer: I am not saying that I have any specific facts to back this up, but in the world of conspricacies and controversies, we often play in the “circumstantial evidence” realm anyway.)

Is it so obvious that nobody bothered to mention it? Perhaps, and feel free to tell me so and that I should go get a life.

Was it lost in other noise? Maybe, there has (for once) been other things to talk about.

But, you see, I have this sneaking suspicion that I was duped. Duped by the Revolution and duped by the “real” local media.

Not only was I duped, but I applauded my own duping in the social media sphere. Here’s what I now find to by my ironically naïve tweet.

So, I’ll take a run at my own conspiracy theory.

The story short here is that I was applauding Frank Dell’Apa of the Boston Globe of correctly calling out what fans and bloggers have been fretting about for a few years: an opaque and confusing management structure within the New England Revolution that made it hard to understand roles/responsibilities, determine where issues existed that led to recent failures or even pat the right person on the back when things went right.

Why bother tweeting about a journalist for journalism as I did? Because in the cushy world of MLS, or the bizarro world of the New England franchise at least, it rarely happens in the “real” media.

When the Boston (or New England) media bothers to cover the team, it’s usually skin deep. There are two primary writers of note, Frank Dell’Apa and Kyle McCarthy. Frank has plenty of sportswriter bonafides but occasionally appears disinterested in his local club, and Kyle tends to be so close to the team that you’d think he’s on the payroll.

That isn’t to say that either of them have totally avoided calling out the Revolution from time to time. Two playoff misses in a row and an international player turnstile that keeps spinning with retreads are hard to ignore. Goodness knows we are better for having them – and the others that cover the Revolution – than not.

But typically, most fans have sensed that the “real” Boston media is typically too concerned for their continued access to the team, or too indifferent to them, to have focused on what the blogger community and fan base saw as a dysfunctional management structure. Among other lingering questions.

So, when seemingly out of the blue, the Boston Globe runs a story that calls out the team structure as something holding the Revolution back, it comes as a breath of fresh air.

But wait, why the sudden concern? Just holding up your information an opinions for an end of season grenade?

Maybe. I cannot say for sure otherwise.

But I THINK otherwise. What do I suspect happened?

The team fed (overtly or otherwise) the story to Mr. Dell’Apa.

He either thought he had enough to write up something interesting about dysfunctional management style, or was just doing the Revolution “a solid” by getting out news the wanted out there. You can make your own guess as to that one, he bears enough of the ugly truth about the team for me to be on the fence here.

Why would the team bother, you ask?

The team, already knowing what changes the tight family structure would tolerate, chose to publicly set the bar at a height they knew they could tolerate. They owned the story about what was wrong and how to fix it.

Namely, organizational structure.

Bad decisions? Wrong personnel? Antiquated approach to talent acquisition and marketing?

Nope. Organizational structure.

In reality, one person took the fall here, and it was only for the on-field performance. Steve Nicol.

(To be fair, I was – and am – OK with his dismissal, he just seemed burnt out and I suspect both he and the Revolution will probably benefit from the change.)

Sure, you can say Sunil Gulati also was removed from his Revolution responsibilities as well. But come on, he leads the US Soccer Federation, he’s a Professor, he had a vague remit for the Revolution anyway… and he stays on as an “Advisor” to the Kraft’s. That’s not really a change of massive proportions.

In the conspiratorial world I’ve created here, the team successfully lowered the bar for what change was required, and then stepped right over it.

What strikes me about this theory, and the main reason I might doubt my whole twisted plot here, is that it’s kind of brilliant – if a bit obvious given the timing. It’s more sophisticated than what I’ve come to expect from the team.

I’m not sure if I’m annoyed at being duped or impressed they (kind of) pulled it off.

Now, as I offered as a disclaimer. I could be totally wrong here.

One day, Revolution ownership and management may have been having their Cheerios and coffee and read Mr. Dell’Apa’s fine piece of journalism and had an epiphany.

They then ran to their phones and immediately made decisive moves to shore up the team based on the now-obvious management issues.

Which one sounds fictional to you?

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