Sounders FC season ticket holder Ryan Scally has seen, and heard, enough excuse making from the Sounders Head Coach.
It’s time to deliver – or leave, he concludes.
Fan Op-Ed: MLS Cup or Sigi has to go
by Ryan Scally
As the Sounders’ fifth season in Major League Soccer churns to a close, I have allowed myself some time to take a step back and view the current state of affairs from a completely emotional and perhaps irrational fan’s standpoint.
My conclusion is that if the Sounders do not win an MLS Cup this season, the Front Office will be left with no option but to dismiss Sigi Schmid as coach.
I am not one that normally rushes to make drastic conclusions. There are seven steps that I go through. Only four of these involve alcohol so keep your snarky comments to yourself. Below I invite you to take a tour into the dark cavern that is my current state of mind. I will do my best to break down my thoughts and reasoning for showing Sigi Schmid the door.
After the success of the first three seasons, including strong attendance, making playoffs in consecutive seasons, and winning three consecutive U.S. Open Cups, the consensus among many Sounder fans was that the next step needed to be an MLS Cup. After making a deep run into the CONCACAF Champions League tournament and coming up short, the Sounders Front Office made a commitment to the title.
Just this past offseason the Front Office went out on a limb and made several moves that were deemed necessary to catapult the team to the next level. One of these moves was the loan of Fred Montero. I had always felt that there was some sort of a “misunderstanding’ between Sigi Schmid and his star forward.
After the signing of Eddie Johnson last season, it seemed almost a formality that Montero was sent away. While I didn’t harbor any real concern at the time of his loan, I have since realized that this may have been one of Schmid’s many tactical errors over the past few seasons.
The second move in my opinion was the quick u-turn on Christian Tiffert.
While Tiffert never showed the offensive threat that many fan’s had hoped for, I noticed that he provided a very stable presence in the central midfield.
The central midfield is an area of great concern and I will get back to that in a bit. Montero and Sigi may have never seen eye to eye, but Fredy’s knack for scoring clutch goals is something that has been lacking this season for the Sounders.
After the release of Tiffert and the loan of Montero, the Front Office knew that they needed to make a splash. After a long courtship the Sounders signed a dynamic striker in Obafemi Martins. Martins’ athleticism and speed was billed as potentially “game changing” and early indications were that he did indeed provide an offensive punch.
With Martins and Johnson as forwards, newly signed defensive star Djimi Traore shoring up the back line, and the addition of the speedster right back Deandre Yedlin, how could the Sounders not be seen as a viable threat? Strong defense, strong offense, speed, and a tall handsome Austrian goalkeeper, how could this not be our year?
Unfortunately trouble was obvious from the very beginning of the season. Plagued with injuries and uninspired performances the Sounders struggled to only win four of their first 11 games. Martins was constantly missing from action with a wide variety of injuries. He almost seemed as if he were here on vacation and would drop in from time to time to play 60 minutes or so if his schedule allowed.
As previously mentioned, the midfield has been in shambles most of the season.
Poor passing and the inability to keep the ball with any regularity has proved to be difficult for much of the season. Despite the nagging injuries and the lackluster midfield play, the Sounders were able to win 11 games between June and September. Perhaps the shining beacon of hope is Eddie Johnson. He has proven to be a threat in the majority of the games he has played in this year.
The big moment that most people will be looking back at was the signing of Clint Dempsey. Here is arguably the best American soccer player in the world. Still in his prime and he is coming to the Sounders. My initial reaction was that his signing would provide much needed relief to a struggling mid-field and allow Johnson to become an even larger threat up top, not to mention provide a wealth of international experience.
However, quite the opposite has happened.
Perhaps it is best summed up by the saying that my mom used yell at me as a child when I would inadvertently knock over something and smash it into smithereens, “This is why we can’t have nice things!!”
Seattle was loaded with talent and yet when late September rolled around we inadvertently sat on our balls. Suddenly the team had returned to the form of this past spring. Defensive disaster after disaster, the benching of our tall handsome goalkeeper, and the inability to complete a pass to an individual in the same colored kit. Sneaking in to the playoffs with the help of a San Jose and Los Angeles draw proved to be our savior.
I have heard several opinions of what the reason for recent poor performances could be. These include:
- The Sounders’ defensive players are republicans and were refusing to play in efforts to overturn Obamacare
- The Mariner Moose licked all of the Sounders boots and has cursed the team for eternity
- The Sounders had their talent stolen by cartoon aliens as demonstrated in the 90’s classic movie “Space Jam”
- The coaching.
After mulling over these opinions and giving strong consideration to the alien talent stealing one, I have decided that it must be the coaching. For years now the Sounders have been suffering embarrassing lopsided defeats in games that are billed as “tests”. Well, if this is true, then the Sounders must be products of the United States educational system because they are failing these test miserably.
Two years ago the blow out defeat to RSL in the first leg of the playoffs. Last season a repeat of the same scenario, only this time to the Galaxy. Time after time the Sounders are not able to be competitive when most matters.
One of my favorite games to play is “What Lineup Will Sigi Pick Today?”
On a weekly basis Schmid has fielded different lineups. Some of this is caused by unavoidable issues like national team duty or serious injury. However, I can’t imagine that other teams don’t have to deal with these same issues and I don’t seem to get a list of excuses from them.
Sigi cannot possibly in good conscience say that there is not enough talent or experience on this squad to make a deep playoff run. At some point if an army keeps losing repeatedly, someone will eventually blame the general. The Front Office has tried to show their support by stating that this is not a coaching issue, I strongly disagree. At this point I truly believe that Sigi must win an MLS cup in order to keep his job.
It is time for Sigi to demonstrate his coaching genius and make a run to the cup. The time for excuses has come and gone. He needs to get along with team members not named Brad Evans and he needs to find a way to motivate his players to play for him. Simply stating that a big game should provide enough motivation for the players is not an acceptable excuse.
Your job as manager is to provide the motivation if necessary. Give a fiery speech, throw chairs, punch a mascot, or do whatever it takes. But whatever tactic he has been using thus far simply is not working and I feel that it will ultimately cost him his coaching job.
In conclusion, Sigi has been given plenty of talent, top notch training facilities, a wealthy ownership group, and an amazing fan base. If they come up short once again he needs to fall on his sword.
|For Schmid||Against Schmid|
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