(Editorial) – With seven games remaining in their season, Saint Louis FC has relieved head coach Dale Schilly of his duties. Assistant coach Tim Leonard will take over as interim head coach for the remainder of the season. The club sits in 10th place in the USL Western Conference Standings, two points behind Arizona United FC for the final playoff spot. Arizona does have a game in hand. Early indications are that Schilly will remain with the St. Louis Scott Gallagher program in some capacity.
What went into this decision? More importantly, where does Saint Louis FC go from here? Can they qualify for the playoffs?
Dale Schilly Out At Saint Louis FC: Why And What It Means
The team was playing poorly and wasn’t in a playoff spot. Things got stale and they needed a change.
At the end of the day, Schilly just didn’t get it done. The team was 1-4-3 in their last eight games. Six of those were home games. They’ve won just four of 12 home games in 2016. It wasn’t just the results, it was how the team was playing.
Saint Louis FC has had a poor habit of conceding goals in the opening 15 minutes, especially at home. Despite having good talent in defense, they’ve consistently given up goals off counter attacks started by ignominious turnovers. This issue goes back to last year, even though this year’s team is more experienced and talented than last year’s.
These systematic issues ultimately fall on the head coach. Schilly couldn’t fix or change them. The team kept falling in the standings. They kept dropping points at home. A change was needed to try and salvage this season (make the playoffs), and this was the change the front office thought was needed.
Some may argue that the club waited too long to do the inevitable, but the timing of this decision seemed appropriate. The team only lost consecutive games once before July. Schilly wasn’t going to get fired with team playing ok.
This last four game home stand was his downfall. All four opponents were ahead of them in the standings, three of them in playoff spots. These were teams they needed to beat. They took five of 12 points. The club gave up three goals in the opening 20 minute on Sunday. That could have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.
The focus now is purely on making the playoffs.
There’s no doubt the new coach bump will be a factor for Saint Louis FC. Coach Leonard is a bit more offensively minded than Schilly was. Perhaps that helps the club find depth scoring beyond forward Irvin Herrera. Leonard could also shake things up with the lineup and tactics. This could help Saint Louis FC get out of their defensive funk.
Four of their remaining seven games are against playoff teams. They do have a home-and-away series with San Antonio FC, who are second to last in the conference. That needs to be at least four points, preferably six.
They have their work cut out for them. Maybe the head coach firing will get the team focused on one game at a time.
If I had to guess, I’d say they don’t make the playoffs. A combined four games against Louisville City FC, FC Cincinnati, and OKC Energy FC might just be too tough.
They probably need to go outside Scott Gallagher for the next coaching hire.
First off, Leonard should be given a chance to win the job going forward. If he can get the team to the playoffs, he should certainly be considered.
Saint Louis FC certainly needs an American coach who knows the country. They don’t necessarily need a coach with USL experience. But they need one who knows the American landscape and who has an eye for youth development. Assistant coaches in MLS and the NASL would be a good place to start looking.
There is one other option with Dale Schilly out. If Saint Louis FC have a problem, if no one else can help, and if they can find him, maybe they can hire Preki.