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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Players, Referee or Manager? - Seattle Sounders v Houston Dynamo

Not my usual blog post today. Life will return to normal very soon...

I felt I had to blog after yesterday's disappointing soccer game that saw the Seattle Sounders managing to scrape a 1-1 draw with the Houston Dynamos (and me, a season ticket holder, leaving the stadium at half-time for the first time ever in my life). Here are the contending reasons for the poor showing:

Players - Despite 15 shots in the first half of play, Seattle didn't convert a single one. Poor show

Referee - Despite obvious serious fouls in the 3rd and 71st minutes, Seattle were not rewarded with either a sending off or a penalty on Houston

Manager - Sigi Schmid continues to field a team that shows no coordination either up front or on the wings

So, what's the verdict? The American MLS is about the only league in the world where there is no promotion or relegation system and where managers are never constantly worried about losing their jobs. In England, a series of poor results from a team that is expected to do well is usually rewarded with a sacking of the manager. Further, if the team does poorly, they drop a division at the end of the season. Here it's about 'the long haul' as Sigi would put it - 'being there at the end of the season' so that the team can get into the playoffs. The system is broken.

In my opinion there is no incentive for teams to learn how to play exceptional football and take chances during the regular season here. Teams are satisfied with taking draws along the way, knowing that as long as they stay in contention, mid-table, they will get through to the play-offs. So this is sort of a manager's problem. But the whole league is broken too.

Then there's the referees and linesmen who, unlike every other country in the world once more, don't have to be FIFA qualified to officiate a game. What is wrong with this picture? No wonder they can't make decent decisions when they are needed. Actually, I have to say that generally the refereeing standards in the MLS are abysmal. Repeat - abysmal.

Oh, I guess I should also write about the players too. People criticize the MLS for not attracting the right quality of players to play. It's no wonder. With poor refereeing and managers that don't play the right kind of football, the best players move on. This has already happened with the best two international players that Seattle have had - in only the first two seasons! First Freddie Ljungberg left after 'disagreements' in 2009, and a couple of weeks ago Blaise Nkufo did exactly the same. This points to a management problem to me. There is something wrong in Denamrk as the saying goes. Something terribly wrong.

So, in conclusion, I'd like to blame the players for playing so bad and I'd like to blame the referees for officiating so poorly, but in the end I will blame the team's managers and the MLS system. There are no incentives and a sub-standard level of managers here. Bring in someone from Europe to manage one of these teams. Build something that is hungry to win. Be ruthless with the players. Make them perform. Then sort out the officiating. The players will end up sorting out themselves.

I look at league tables from other countries and after a few games there are huge differences between top and bottom teams. And those things get sorted - by sackings. Here in America it seems to me the public likes to watch a league where everyone is 'even'. Please, please, please, bring some decent soccer to the MLS, otherwise I fear that I may not even last the first 45 minutes the next time I am at the stadium. Thank God there are still 36,000 other Seattle Sounders fans that will still go to games - for a while.

Rant over....


  1. I think you are 2 of 3 on the right side . I will defend the players by saying we created 26 shots on talent and drive , the refs were as usual HORRENDOUS ! a straight red in the 3rd minute was not only warranted but deserved . The PK that Hernandez didn't call was only made worse when he added insult to injury by carding leo for diving ! why the MLS doesn't bring EPL refs over to mentor mls refs is a crime !
    2 our so called coach sigi and his college based offensive tactics have to go ! benching Fernandez was stupid Evans can't hold el falco's shoes ! Why we have gone through 2 MLS drafts without drafting a marking back or two so we have solid backups and don't have to rely on Zach scott and tyson wahl is beyond me ! the upper management has done well with most decisions but they need to step up and can sigi !

  2. Sigi try’s to run the team like a college team. He wants them to be warm and fuzzy with each other, like a family. He has stated such things in his comments. He will get rid of a player if the do not "fit in" with the group. Something tells me this has more to players like Cruz, Merideth, Caskey etc. not making the team rather than any lack of talent. Well, this is not college. These are the pros and they are not college kids anymore. A pro coach has to deal with difficult talented players and learn how to fit them in. You do not dump players because they do not fit perfectly into your warm and fuzzy family. We have lost FL and Nkufo and probably for this exact reason. What self respecting proven pro needs that kind of nonsense? They just move on and lesson learned. Seattle is going to quickly get the reputation of a team that DP's choose to avoid due to the rah rah college nonsense we are seeing. A coach has to be tough, let the players that prove they can play do so. Keep the prima donnas on the bench. Stop showing favoritism to the pretty boys (you know who they are) and make everyone earn their way into the lineup. By the way, why is Montero starting over Montano? Montano is quicker, tougher, and knows how to strike amazingly (maybe pair him with Zakuani at fwd). Montero is relatively easy to defend, not tough, not enough stamina for the whole 90, slow on the strike, and misses shots all over the place. Who would you rather meet in a dark alley, Montero or Montano? Montano would be really scary. Montero couldn't do you harm if he snuck up on you from behind with a bowie knife. We need Montano's quick striking ability and toughness at forward. Montano has to be given a chance to show what he can do and there are others too. Montero seems to be rather effective if he comes in at the 60 minute mark as a sub. The defense is tired then and he is fresh. He has shown he can do damage when used in this way. However he is not a full game forward. Oh, well. Something has to give here. I am not holding my breath, but unless mgt. stops worshiping at the alter of Montero, Evans, Riley etc.and others that feel entitled we are heading for some very rough times ahead. If we fail to meet expectations again this year changes will have to be made. A new game philosophy has to emerge for this team.
    Leave the college game mentality for the college boys. Treat your players as men, and let them act as men without fear of being sacked.

  3. Thanks for the comments, guys. Spot on.... Sigi needs to change or move on...

  4. While all of your points are valid, one thing really stands out to me as being wrong. I myself have been a season ticket holder from day one, and not once have I left early. If you are a true supporter or fan, you STAY and cheer on your club through ineptitude, bad refereeing, and bad managing. Even if the Sounders do not score one more goal all year, I will be there cheering them on through my tears. If you don't want to be there, don't buy next year so someone who will cheer on the Sounders for the full 90 can sit in your seat. Enough said.

  5. To the anonymous above who wouldn't leave their name:- You're missing the point... What I am saying here is this is how the rot starts. This is how people stop being season ticket holders and move on. I love the Sounders and if I am already thinking about it, then something is seriously wrong with the set up. It's not about the players. It's bigger than that - the system is broken.