There were two big surprises in the group stage. The first would be Wilmer Cabrera storming out of the qualification matches and running away comfortably with his group. The second would be Preki's dismissal.
Let's think about this for a second. Yes, he wasn't successful with TFC this year and paid for it. But who has been successful with that train wreck? There's a reason they cleared house (paying attention United?) this year. So, putting TFC aside, what had Preki done in his first three seasons as a coach?
2007 - Coach of the Year, Supporters' Shield runners up, 1st in the Western Conference, playoffs
2008 - 2nd in the Western Conference, playoffs
2009 - 4th in the Western Conference, playoffs
True, he was taking up what Bradley left in place for him at Chivas, but he qualified for the playoffs all three years. Also true, he got knocked out in the first round each time in decidedly Soehn-esque fashion and had declining league finishes, but I seem to recall some pretty severe injury crises he had to deal with in 2008 and 2009. Paired with the agricultural style of his teams, maybe he's not the strongest candidate, and compared to Hamlett (two 2nd in East and 2 MLS Cup semifinals with Chicago) maybe I can see some competition (though why is Hamlett now the interim coach at the Illinois Institute of Technology then?). But Dooley? What has he done to justify such support? I'm honestly asking. As far as I can tell, his only coaching experience outside of the youth ranks was a couple of seasons in Germany almost a decade ago.
In any case, let's get on with the matchups. We'll have two days of voting, ending this time on Sunday, when I'll get the quarterfinal matches posted as well. So without any further ado...
Have at it, folks.