The STATE of Soccer in WASHINGTON
SEATTLE, Wash. - The internet is buzzing with no shortage of writers and pundits willing to talk about what comes next for Seattle Sounders Football Club after their demise in the MLS Western Conference Finals, as well as the end of their first-ever MLS season without a “major” trophy of some kind.
See some of what is being written below, and feel free to post comments as well.
NBCsports.com (Steve Davis): Speaking of that lineup and the revisions made Sunday: the Sounders used 34 different lineups in 38 MLS matches this year. How can that be? Injuries and attempts to rest older players certainly count for some of the lineup instability. But this much?
Finding a consistent lineup is about dodging the ill effects of wanderlust, this illusion of infinite choice, one that says “something better is always out there.” Sometimes a club has to look at its roster, identify its best 12 or 14 and go with it. Seattle had 19 players who started at least 10 matches. The Houston Dynamo, as a comparison, had 15.
Mauro Rosales is one of the issues. He’s 31, which is hardly ancient. On the other hand, he seems to wear down, this being the second year Seattle’s top playmaker wasn’t there at the critical, playoff moment. —LINK
ProstAmerika.com: They have done increasingly well in the CONCACAF Cup, learned lessons along the way, and they are a very good bet to be a better side come next March when that resumes. They may still be the most likely club to be the next MLS side to win the CONCACAF side and play in the lucrative World Club Cup, despite the competing claim of the side who have just eliminated them.
But they haven’t done what they set out to do when they hired Schmid: win an MLS Cup within four years. Therefore, it is not unreasonable for fans and the owners to debate whether the most successful coach in MLS history deserves further time to achieve this, or if it is time to look elsewhere. —LINK
Seattle P-I blog: Anyway, regardless of who ends up leaving, this team should be a favorite for the Supporters’ Shield next year. We are pretty solid throughout. Gspurning has been a more than adequate replacement for Kasey Keller. Parke and Hurtado aren’t brilliant, but they are solid, don’t make too many errors, and that is good enough most of the time in this league. Johansson has been a disappointment for me, made too many mistakes this year, but he clearly has the talent and will hopefully settle down in 2013 with a year’s MLS experience under his belt. Gonzalez was excellent, and Burch was a capable backup. In midfield, Alonso and Rosales were phenomenal, as usual. Tiffert’s contribution didn’t really show up in the stats a whole lot, but we saw in the playoffs how much more resilient we are in midfield with him there. Zakuani will be back to full fitness, and based on last night’s performance, still has plenty to offer. Martinez clearly has the talent to be a big star. Brad Evans is Brad Evans, and hopefully he won’t be played out of position on the left next year. And then we have two of the best strikers in the league. —LINK
Seattle Times: The year could have ended with an MLS Cup, another early playoff exit or — like it did — somewhere in between.
Sounders FC’s offseason plans weren’t going to change much.
“We’re still going to look holistically at where we’re at and try to get better next year and try to put together a team that can win a championship,” general manager Adrian Hanauer said after Sunday’s season-ending series defeat to the Los Angeles Galaxy in the Western Conference finals.
With the arrival of the offseason, Hanauer said the next few days would be “a bit of an autopsy,” but the team, he noted, is continually in the process of scouring the globe for players and evaluating its current roster and contract situations.
So what will be different in 2013? —LINK
SounderAtHeart.com: You can argue the Seattle Sounders got more talented. Eddie Johnson, Christian Tiffert,Adam Johansson, Michael Gspurning, Mario Martinez and Steve Zakuani were among the players that were added in the meantime. Each of them represent a clear upgrade or at least not a significant downgrade over the players they replaced.
But were the Sounders actually better?
The defense improved by four goals, but the offense scored five fewer. This year’s team advanced one round further in the playoffs, but also finished five spots lower in the overall table. They made it to the U.S. Open Cup final, but had to play it on the road against a much better team and lost in penalties. They advanced to the CCL quarterfinals and were perfect in the group stage, but played lesser opponents than they did in 2011.
I think you’d be hard-pressed to say the Sounders regressed, but there’s almost no quantitative way to say they got better at least in a relative sense. —LINK
Steve Kelley: Eddie and Fredy could have been magical. They could have been the goal-scoring tandem that took Seattle by storm and took Sounders FC to the MLS Cup.
Certainly that was the plan when the front office made the most dramatic trade in the franchise’s four seasons, acquiring Eddie Johnson from Montreal. —LINK
Art Thiel: In the wake of the defeat, no one was talking about Montero and his future. They were too busy bitching. For an outfit that has ambitions to be a world-class club, and has the resources to do it, the failure to become kings of the American hill showed its ugliness Sunday night.
As the game ended, midfielder and captain Osvaldo Alonso, the team’s best player, accosted the officials at midfield and had to be pulled away.
Already assessed a yellow card in-game, Geiger gave him a second after the match, making for a red card, meaning that he will be forced to sit out the Sounders’ opener in 2013.
The season barely over, and they are already a little behind for next year. For the final night of 2012, little was good for the muttering, sputtering Sounders. -–LINK
SB Nation: But the sad truth may be that the Sounders are a solidly above-average side that has managed to parlay their cachet into a unique position in the league pecking order -somewhere below New York Red Bull and L.A. Galaxy but above everyone else – which enables them to keep their heads constantly above water in the staunchly parity-driven MLS. Essentially, the Sounders appear to be on a path which has them on an “always good, but never great” trajectory. Of course, this is hardly horrible. You will always find those that will eagerly defend the Sounders position, happy to point out that we could be the Portland Timbers (or FC Toronto, or New England Revolution, or…), and of course they are absolutely right. —LINK
Adrian Hanauer in Seattle Times: “We said before the playoffs started that if we win a championship, we’re still going to look holistically at where we’re at and try to get better next year and try to put together a team that can win a championship. Certainly knowing that we’re not playing Champions League next year in the qualifying stage takes four games out of the equation, which maybe allows you to tinker with the depth a little bit and say, ‘OK, maybe that balance shifts a little bit more to the 11, 12, 13, 14 guys that are going to get more and more minutes,’ but that’s really subtle, and it’s based on what opportunities arise. It’s hard to just snap your fingers and say all of a sudden now I’m trying to go from 18-deep to 14-deep. The right deals have to fall into place. Again, Sigi said it: We were a little bit of discipline from still being playing or quite frankly having won this series because at 2-0 we can close up shop. But a 3-0 loss in L.A., again, just too deep a hole.” —LINK