Sounders fan Chris LaRoche was in less than full agreement with Kyle Alm’s column last week on the future of Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid.
He’s even less enamoured with the quality of the anti-Schmid reasoning from some of his fellow fans on the internet.
We couldn’t keep someone that angry from having his say. We will have a rebuttal tomorrow, but LaRoche is certainly not alone in his views.
Calls for Sigi to step down are preposterous and hyperbolic
by Sounders FC fan Chris LaRoche
Just as there’s an irrational voice of Sounders fans defending Sigi to no end, there’s another curious irrational voice calling for his head whenever the Sounders fail to maintain perfection.
Such an opinion was printed on this site last week and has been growing in some cracks on the web. Like every other time before, it makes my eyes roll. And my eyes are tired of rolling.
Calls for Sigi to step down are just as preposterous and hyperbolic as those who think he is utterly without fault.
This latest round has come about because, barely a month after the Sounders achieved TWO team firsts, -first in the Conference and first in the Supporters Shield race- the team stumbled. And hard.
Two embarrassing blow outs and a further embarrassing loss resulted in the return of the most annoying murmur in some circles: Sigi has to go.
Now after the loss to Dallas, the murmur has been virtually replaced (at least in the heads of some) by an angry mob wielding pitch forks and torches. After all, the team is now deep into their longest losing streak in their MLS history of four games.
Let’s reflect on that for a second: the Sounder’s longest losing streak is FOUR GAMES LONG. You’d be hard pressed to find a coach or team whose longest losing streak was so brief.
And despite that losing streak, Sounders have found themselves breaking another record: a fifth straight play-off appearance and winning season, most of any expansion team, making all the complaints about Sigi even more pathetic.
Last week’s opinion brought up an additional point: a string of three DPs who weren’t incorporated into the team and left after less than stellar performances.
This, claims the author, is further proof of Sigi’s failure as a coach, omitting any evidence that the players themselves were tempestuous, past their prime, heading to retire, or just not good fits.
Also omitted was the suggestion that these might be a fault of the international recruitment team -of which Sigi only plays a small part; or a general history of DPs in MLS, which empirical evidence suggests that underachievement is more of the league norm.
But forget that.
Let’s review Sigi’s achievements coaching the Sounders:
• Sounders have reached playoffs every year, each year getting a little closer to winning the final.
• Three-peat victors of the Open Cup, a sporting achievement so rare it’s a statistical aberration.
• Three appearances in the CCL league, each time progressing a little further.
There’s a pattern here.
Every time Sounders venture into unchartered territory they get the willies and panic, only to learn from the experience and do better the next year. Each year they’ve gone incrementally further in the playoffs and the CCL. The Open Cup was an exception because no one else wanted it initially and it started to become harder to win.
Falling into disarray after finding themselves first in the league could be seen as an extension of that pattern.
It’s not as if Schmid’ influence has nothing to show for this season either:
• First MLS team to knock out a Mexican team in the CCL competition.
• Coached two players onto the national team, including resurrecting Eddie Johnson’s career.
• Coached Deandre Yedlin on the Under 20 National team.
• Drew the captain of the US national team away from Europe with the biggest deal in MLS history.
• For the first time in Sounders’ history as an MLS team, they briefly led the chase for the Supporter’s Shield.
• And the aforementioned 5th straight playoff appearance.
The vast majority of MLS teams would be ecstatic to have a coach with these accomplishments, but for some Sounders fans… it’s not good enough. This plays into the perception by the rest of the league that Seattle Sounders supporters are a bunch of petulant, spoiled brats with unrealistic expectations.
I imagined a conversation like this:
Irrational Dump Sigi Fans (IDSF): “Daddy! Daddy! We want the Shield! Or the Cup.”
Joe Roth: “But we have the US national team captain, the biggest deal in MLS history”
IDSF: “Doesn’t matter! I want the Shield! Or the Cup!”
Roth: “But his coaching and connections got two players onto the national team”
IDSF: “We want the Shield! Or the Cup!”
Roth: “But the team has consistently improved every season.”
IDSF: “Waa waa! He lost the Shield! Give us the Cup, or Sigi’s head!”
Of course, Sigi has made mistakes. The early ejection from the Open Cup by an second division side; a four-game free fall; failing to close the deal on the Supporters Shield.
Troubling is his tendency to deflect blame and accountability, choosing instead to point fingers at referees. But let’s be honest. Most of us swallowed that garbage for at least two years when it suited us.
But do these shortcomings signal a disaster of a coach worthy of dumping???
Are you kidding me?
Let’s look at some coaches who have been fired recently:
· A losing record for a season and a half, marked by being humiliating in the Open Cup by a fifth division amateur side. (John Spencer, Portland Timbers)
· A very public, painful, and prolonged breakdown, complete with trading key players mid season, public outbursts, and a losing season. (Peter Nowak, Philadelphia)
· Failing to make the playoffs. Ever. (Every manager in Toronto FC’s history)
· Failing to have a winning season. (Last three managers of Chivas FC)
· Failing to turn around a horribly losing season after a winning one. (Frank Yallop, San Jose)
· Losing season, as in more games lost than won. (Jesse Marsch (Montreal), Steve Nicol (New England Revs)
Do you see a pattern here?
Finally, the unspoken / unwritten extension of the “dump Sigi” camp is that there’s someone better who can replace him.
Yes, there are better coaches, but Bruce Arena seems pretty happy in LA. Caleb Porter has done better than anyone predicted and Martin Rennie provides evidence that rookies do not automatically succeed. Bob Bradley might be available soon, but I suspect Seattle would be a bit anticlimactic after his whirlwind tenure as a national figure promoting peace and stability in a chaos-filled Egypt. Jason Kreis is already being touted for the far more prestigious New York City job.
But if the expectations for a coach are “flawless perfection”, what coach would want the job?
Sigi has flaws, no doubt. Everyone does.
But to review the last few games and conclude he’s a failure while ignoring his successes this year, not to mention the last five years, is nothing short of lunacy.
His time with the Sounders will come to an end, but at that decision is his and the ownership, not because the knee-jerk opinions of some half-wit fans with no firm grip of reality.
(Tomorrow, Ryan Sales also a Sounders fan will put the case for the other side)