Kyle Alm asks how much ‘snake bit’ Sigi Schmid is the victim of events he cannot control, and how much personal responsibility he bears for the current position of Sounders FC.
‘Snakebit’ Schmid Running Out Of Excuses
by Kyle Alm
One could say that Sounders were unlucky that they came up without a goal in the Rose City against their bitter rivals. They were on the unlucky side of the crossbar twice and forced Donovan Ricketts into a couple of amazing saves.
Sigi Schmid called his club snake bit and they have been unfortunate. When it comes to scoring goals and collecting injuries, he’s correct.
He may also feel that he deserved to get out of Portland with a point but he’s wrong about that. Not the way that his team played and not when they sowed the undoing of their season by compounding poor play with bad sportsmanship and a petulant reaction.
Osvaldo Alonso deserved to be sent off for his elbow against Will Johnson. There’s no arguing otherwise.
Violent conduct towards opposing players cannot be tolerated. And he initiated the whole incident by making a sliding challenge after play had been whistled dead following Jhon Kennedy Hurtado’s midfield foul on Darlington Nagbe as you can see in the video below:
Schmid took a jab at Will Johnson in his post-match presser. It’s always Will Johnson isn’t it? But if it’s always Will Johnson, why aren’t his players prepared for that?
Johnson got under Alonso’s skin and got the reaction he wanted. But that’s who Will Johnson is. Alonso made a sliding tackle on Johnson after the play had been whistled dead to start the whole incident. The mass confrontation was an even further embarrassment. Fines for Schmid’s comments have cost him $1,000, the team was fined $5,000 for the mass confrontation of the officials.
Sounders without Osvaldo Alonso has not been a great recipe for success. And it was all so unnecessary.
A lot of people speculate that the injury to Alonso was the reason for Sounders slow start, and his absence could precipitate a fall from the playoffs for MLS Cup. Sounders have been missing key players, Brad Evans, Eddie Johnson (hurt in USMNT training), but key players have been missing for all sides.
Ryan Johnson, Alvas Powell and Rodney Wallace were missing from Timbers, Diego Valeri didn’t start. It would be Valeri’s replacement who made the most impactful play of the match when Yedlin wasn’t able to clear the ball more than a yard or two past the penalty box. That is where Khalif Alhassan was able to strike and beat Marcus Hahneman for the winning goal.
In some revisionist version of the match Sounders could have won 1-0 or even 2-1 had they finished their two best chances.
Steve Zakuani provided a bright spot for Sounders and had it not been for Pa-Modouh Kah the teams would have shared a point. And down to 10 men it would have been a moral victory to say the least. Zakuani was unlucky he didn’t score.
Kah did everything he could to defend the shot and wound up getting just enough on it. If anything Zakuani and Sounders were lucky that they even got such an opportunity to score in the box in stoppage time, not unlucky to hit the crossbar again.
You can’t play the style of soccer that Sigi Schmid is prescribing without a target up front. Lamar Neagle and Clint Dempsey have shown they are decent aerial threats. Pat Ianni is a decent aerial threat on set pieces, but Eddie Johnson is one of the best in the league in the air without him those chances just seem speculative.
Sounders like to play balls long and generate chances in the air, but if you don’t have a target, that strategy doesn’t make sense. It’s Mauro Rosales’ main weapon and he looked one-dimensional when that was taken away.
I don’t know why Alex Caskey was selected over Marc Burch. Sounders have used a large number of different lineups, Burch and Neagle have familiarity and goals.
It seemed like unnecessary roster churn for a lineup that is rarely the same two weeks in a row.
Trying to fit players to a strategy doesn’t work. Management is about putting players in their best position to succeed, not to ask them to do things they aren’t good at because that’s who they are filling in for.
Watching Sounders play you get the impression that the players have communication problems on the field, little familiarity with their teammates, and almost no understanding of team concepts.
Comparing the second string of Sounders compared to that of the Timbers you can see how top-heavy and rigid the roster actually is. All bets are off when it comes to Sounders. What was a high-flying act a month ago is now been grounded with injuries and disgraced by disciplinary actions.
It is tiring to hear the same excuses from Sounders. Injuries have made the roster thin. USMNT call ups haven’t helped but Sounders roster seem to hang on just a few pieces and disintegrate without them.
Winning can cover up problems, losing exposes them. Losing forces you to reevaluate your approach, or it should. I’m tired of the excuses. No one cares. The results matter.
Sounders have blamed injuries, officiating, and just about anything but having a very difficult discussion about the quality of players on the roster from top to bottom and whether or not Sigi Schmid is putting his players in the best position to succeed.
There is an irrational voice amongst Sounders fans defending Schmid. It is curious to say the least.
When players underperform and don’t develop, the coach should be evaluated. When teams fall off the table and hit a slide and look totally unprepared for their opponents you have to question the coach.
It is honestly the easiest job in the world to get fired from and no one should get a pass just because they are winningest MLS manager of all time. It’s a ‘what have you done for me lately‘ kind of business after all and maybe it is time to shake up the team and fire Sigi Schmid.
He’s not getting the most out of his players, hasn’t made adjustments to stop this awful skid, and the fall off in talent and chemistry outside of the first eleven is at least partially at his feet.
There is a problem with integrating players into Sigi’s lineup, it wasn’t just Christian Tiffert. Why does it take so long to integrate key signings? Going all the way back to Ljungberg there has been a problem with positioning the best player on the field.
Ljungberg was a wide player trying to play centrally and wound up occupying the same space as Fredy Montero. Tiffert never could beat out Brad Evans in the center of the midfield, which raises a good question, why was he signed?
Blaise Nkufo was another curious case. They signed him, waited until after the World Cup for him to actually play, and he was good. Then it turns out that he didn’t want to play and quit just before the first game of the next season. It’s hard to say what is going to happen with Obafemi Martins, he’s certainly got the talent, but his lack of production lately indicates a problem.
Why does this always happen to the Sounders? Here’s a hint, maybe it’s the coach.
If Sounders fail to get right in Dallas, Sigi might need to find his own ride home. Preparation needs to be better. Defensive organization needs to be better and they are going to be missing Ossie Alonso, but no-one is going to want to hear that as an excuse.
Then there is a matchup with Bruce Arena and the LA Galaxy looming on the horizon in what could be a playoff preview.
There is a small chance that Sounders lose on the road in Dallas, get beat at home by LA Galaxy, and are then bounced out of the playoffs by (yep) Bruce Arena’s LA Galaxy. Or the Rapids, or maybe even the Whitecaps or Earthquakes. And there is even a slight chance that they might not make the playoffs.
It’s been one of the best seasons in MLS.
Quality of play is up across the league and this is one of the most compelling endings to any professional sports season that a sports fan could hope for. And Sounders are almost on the outside looking in.
They cannot keep doing the same thing and expecting to get a better result in an increasingly difficult league. MLS has improved and Sounders aren’t living up to their promise, their fanfare or their payroll.
They may need to change the approach if they want to do more than win the US Open Cup at a time when no one else really cared about it. Sounders helped raise the bar in the Beckham era of MLS and they have to meet the standard that they have set for themselves.