The Wash: Plenty of questions for ‘SoCal Sounders’

The Wash: Plenty of questions for ‘SoCal Sounders’

The Wash is David Falk’s take on the world of soccer in The WA.

I’ve got plenty of questions. 

I am a Sigi Schmid skeptic, and have been since before the Sounders even played their first MLS match.

It didn’t have to start that way, but then the Sounders also didn’t have to start their life as an MLS side with a fine for tampering to get Sigi, did they? Though officially the club did not admit guilt, they none-the-less were fined and paid Columbus. Sort of a “I didn’t take $100 from you, but here’s $100 anyway” kind of deal. Third-party reports suggest Southern California owner Joe Roth was “proud” of getting Southern Californian Sigi Schmid, anyway they could. Does Roth believe in karma? Just a question.

Sigi Schmid (former UCLA, LA Galaxy head coach) impressed right out of the gate with a fine first season for the Sounders, steering the side to a US Open Cup Championship and the playoffs.

In year four the tally is now three US Open Cups, two straight elite eight appearances in the CONCACAF Champions League and four straight playoff appearances.

Yet still, I have questions.

Why have so few designated players blossomed during Schmid’s watch?

Why have so few young talents been developed along and into the starting eleven?

Why does he under-use (or misuse) the talent and depth that the front office stacks the roster with? 

Why do the Sounders appear unready in playoff first legs, now having been outscored 7:0 in five opening matches over four years?

Why does Sigi appear to favor SoCal players (David Estrada) while letting locals (Lamar Neagle) go?

UCLA grad. David Estrada gets instruction from former UCLA head coach Sigi Schmid. (Wilson Tsoi)

Can Joe Roth be trusted to pull the plug on Sigi as needed, considering they are life-long SoCal pals?

Are Sigi and his (Everett native) UCLA SoCal pal Technical Director Chris Henderson even on the same page when it comes to attacking talent? (Freddie Ljungberg, Blaise Nkufo, Alvaro Fernandez, Mario Martinez…)

Is Kurt Schmid a great “find” as a scouting coach, or just a relative getting a gig? Has he proven himself? What about playoff foe scouting? Can fans even question these sorts of hires?

Why do some players appear to be in some sort of “Sigi doghouse?”

Are the Sounders frustrating to watch in any way that Schmid can control?

Does Sigi “have the clubhouse” on his side?

Why has year four been the worst year for results with the best roster yet? (No USOC trophy, 6th in league, no Cascadia Cup, another playoff blowout, CONCACAF in jeopardy.)

Why do Jason Kreis, Dominic Kinnear and Bruce Arena succeed in the playoffs year after year?

Why don’t we hear from Sounders players how “great” it is to play for Sigi? It’s always “great to be in Seattle….great to be a Sounder…”

What is the relationship /communication level between Schmid and Fredy Montero?

How have Schmid’s roster choices / training methods affected player injuries?

Why are so many Sounders fans willing to accept this continual post-season nightmare without asking for change?

Are the Sounders better now than they were in 2009?

What’s Sigi best at tactically: attacking soccer or organizing a defense?

What is the current on-pitch trajectory of the side?

Does winning cure all ills? If Sigi is part of a miracle on November 18, does that mean he’s a great coach (again)?

What is Brian Schmetzer doing for, say, the next four years?


16 thoughts on “The Wash: Plenty of questions for ‘SoCal Sounders’

  1. The question I like the least is why fans are willing to accept this continual post-season nightmare without asking for change….How many teams can say they’ve made the playoffs 4 years straight? How many can say they have 3 trophy’s in the last 4 years? Do you want a Toronto scenario to play out because a coach can’t get a MLS Cup in 4 years, although he does well in other tournaments/regular season? If you bring in another coach that takes us to MLS cup and we win it, how long do they stay on for just that, if they can’t follow it up with success? How long are you willing to give them before burning them if they don’t bring us to a MLS cup?

    If you continually burn and churn through coaches, you’ll end up with a Toronto style club. I’m not the biggest fan of Sigi at times, but I also can’t argue that we’ve had more success during his tenure than the majority of the league.

    1. Good comments. I wonder what the tipping point among fans might be then. Four more years of playoff failure? At some point the glass is half empty. The playoffs have a “power” over how a season “feels” because they are the last impression a coach and club leaves fans with.

  2. It’s nice to see someone ask these questions. Frankly, I’m tired of the softball questions our local press ask. If soccer really is important in this city, then the kid gloves need to come off and accountability needs to be held or 4 years of underachieving (based on our talent level).

    1. Thanks Rob. We can recognize accomplishment while at the same time ask for more or ask why we haven’t gotten over some ‘final hurdles.’ Vulcan Sports is pretty good at buddying up with local press and getting the kind of coverage they like.

  3. Great post. I’m frustrated by the popular sentiment in the Sounders blogosphere/twitterverse that if you’re critical of or question Sigi and the team then you’re somehow stupid or irrational.

    You’ve just earned a loyal reader:)

  4. I, too was skeptical from the first match. I think, more and more, that Schmid is roughly analogous to Cliff McCrath’s situation at SPU…lots of honours won in prehistory, but long outlived real usefulness in a league that has passed him by. Like you,I don’t know if Schmid has the dressing room, either, but signs are that he doesn’t. I may be jumped on for this, but in a sport so requiring top physical fitness and conditioning, how can a 300+ pound man command respect? And I could go on…but life beckons

  5. Oh well,life can wait….Where Schmid has the least success,is coincidentally the area that, frankly, I could do without, namely the playoffs. The format is so unbalanced and fraught with inconsistencies, that all it proves is which team’s form is best during that three week period. But this is America, and they must happen, even if a square peg need be hammered into a round hole.
    Getting back to Schmid, he lost me with the full year of “Ochoa is not fit.” We now see that the boy will always look fat, and be somewhat slow afoot, but Fucito (and his 2 goals in 1100 minutes) kept getting the call, when savvy followers could easily see that he was all “work rate” and precious little else. How did he do in Portland? Next stop NASL. I may check back later for chapter three.

    1. I like workrate. I love skill. I adore finishing. Which of these has Montero shown in the playoffs? Oh wait, this is an anti-Sigi article. 😉

      1. Right, but to be fair putting Montero out as a lone striker, is another check in Sigi’s debit column,is it not? Tiffert also played out of position, again. And Burch’s lack of discipline forces a decision at leftback. But for me it wouldn’t have been Scott, but the jack-of-all-trades, Evans.

        1. Without Mauro, I thought Schmid would go with Scott and keep Evans in the middle (just as he did.) I just don’t get how you play one way an entire year and then decide to switch it up like that, injuries or not. If it had worked (0:0 draw?) then I guess we’d be praising him? Well, it flopped, and exposed some pretty big weaknesses. It didn’t have to be that way…

          1. But it was never going to work…and then to make no halftime adjustments down 1-nil? And be OK with it (in the interview)…but we are arguing on the same side of the street here.

  6. IMHO , David, in the past you have been too harsh on the team in general, and Sigy in particular, apparently due to the manner in which he was “acquired”. I have tried to remain more patient, realizing that despite our early success, we were over performing with the talent we possessed.

    But this year was the make or break year for me. This is Sigy’s team, made up of players he “chose”, and it is most definitely under-performing. The UCLA connection does not bother me as long as they perform – Estrada did, until he (predictably) got hurt.

    If they try to bring back essentially the same lineup next year, there will be trouble. At least half of this team needs to be replaced including Fredy and Mauro and most of the defense. And we need to get some speed.

    If this team comes back as is, they will lose a lot next year, and you will get your wish: Sigy will be gone.

    1. My real wish is for the Sounders to win an MLS Cup. I’d surely give Schmid a break if he could lead us to that. Doesn’t look good for 2012. I wonder why we’d keep him around indefinitely if changes are going to be made anyway…

  7. Conceding our post-season performance, there are very few coaches (Kreis is probably the closest comparison) that have produced as much consistency as Sigi has. He did it at Columbus, and he’s doing it now. In the past four years, we’ve consistently hovered near the top spot, won Open Cups, won several CONCACAF matches, and produced/acquired a handful of players who appear on end of the year lists. The lack of a Supporter’s Shield and MLS Cup are frustrating, but they shouldn’t overshadow the well-earned reputation as one of the one most consistent teams in MLS and sports franchises around.

    With Sigi at the helm, I feel confident that we’ll never be the Timbers. And for that, I am thankful.

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