U.S. Open Cup

Gulati: Schmid's comments 'nonsense'

Schmid (Getty Images)


Seattle Sounders coach Sigi Schmid's assertion that U.S. Soccer is on a calculated mission to halt the Sounders' success in the U.S. Open Cup has made its way to U.S. Soccer's highest-ranking personnel, and it was not received with open arms.

In comments made to the Seattle Times on Sunday, Schmid implied that some sort of conspiracy theory was in the cards after the draw for the next round has the three-time defending champion Sounders on the road should they get by upstart Cal FC Tuesday night. U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati offered a strong retort to Schmid's remarks to SBI on Monday.

"Sigi's comments are completely inappropriate and frankly quite offensive," Gulati told SBI in a phone interview on Monday. "The fact that you lose a few coin flips in a row, that can happen, and that's what's happened here. To imply any kind of conspiracy against Seattle or in favor of D.C. or Kansas City is nonsense. 

"In the same set of comments, Sigi points out that he's been a part of three finals when he hosted a game, including the last two in Seattle. It's nonsense."

Schmid stirred the pot by offering that there is not enough transparency in the coin flip process to determine host sites, a new wrinkle in the tournament this year after teams previously bid for the right to host Open Cup matches. Seattle initially lost the right to host its third round match against the Atlanta Silverbacks but came to an agreement with the NASL side to shift venues. Had Cal FC not upset the Portland Timbers last week, Seattle would have had to go to Jeld-Wen Field for Tuesday's fourth-round match.

Gulati said that there are witnesses and U.S. officials on hand for the coin flip, which is conducted at U.S. Soccer headquarters, and that neither conspiracy nor foul play is a part of the process.

"Obviously the coin is not favorable to us," Schmid told The Times. "It seems to land on the right side for K.C. and for D.C. United, whose president of one club and coach of the other (club) have been on the executive committee of U.S. Soccer — surprisingly.

"Being very frank, I think U.S. Soccer is trying to make it difficult for us to win an Open Cup. It's almost like sometimes I get the feeling like they'd rather not see us win it again, for whatever reasons. Maybe they think it dilutes the value of the cup, or they're getting pressure from others that think Seattle can only win it because they're playing at home.

"All that I know is you compare us and D.C., I mean D.C. has played one away game since 2007. We've played a lot more away games with the second-division Sounders and first division. I know we were in Portland twice, just to think of that one. So it's just something that's there. I think they're making it difficult for us, but it's like, 'OK, they can throw obstacles in the way. We're going to try to jump over each of those hurdles,' and I think we can. And maybe it gives us an 'us against the world' mentality a little bit, because I really think that they would prefer for somebody else to win it."


What did you think of Schmid's comments? What do you make of Gulati's response? Do you think there's any logic behind what Schmid had to say?

Share your thoughts below. 

  • Courtney Love

    Maybe what the Sigster is trying to say is that USSF is using MLS sides to enrich the little guys?


  • Suckers... duh

    ever wonder….? since the Sounders have hosting rights they may be reaping some reward from the TV revenue tonight…


  • Cavan

    DC United lost their DP due to injury in an Open Cup game last year and they’re still taking it seriously this year. I can’t wait to go to tonight’s game!


  • Sounders fan since 1974

    The odds of a coin toss going against any one side that many times must be astronomical.

    At least as high as the odds of the US Men not qualifying for the Olympics.

    Oh, wait, um………


  • ColorWheelie

    Congrats on the win in 09. Way to go. Your coach still said something stupid.


  • Sounders fan since 1974


    Never seen a preliminary round SSFC Open Cup match on anything but a webcast.

    Cal FC must be quite the underdog story nationally to grab that kind of attention. Just hope we can avoid the embarrassment that Portland had last week.


  • Paul

    Lotta stupid in this whole thing.

    1) Anyone who thinks that Sunil Gulati is beyond corruption or resting a thumb on the scales is ignorant or insane. Soccer at his level is a mess and we all know it.

    2) Sigi’s comments started with “I think US Soccer is trying to make it difficult to win an Open Cup.” That’s entirely true; the well-publicized reason for the new hosting-determination procedure was in answer to the complaints of how Seattle was hosting a bunch of games in earlier years.

    In other words, they SAID the reason they were switching to a (supposedly) random draw was because it was “too easy” for a big club willing to spend the dough (ie, Seattle) to host. That means everyone ADMITTED they wanted to make it more difficult on Seattle. Sigi’s 100% right.

    3) When he was discussing the coin flip, he was laughing. Clearly he was partly kidding, but then pivoted to his MAIN point, which is that the coin flip is not transparent.

    Gulati complains that there are multiple people watching it- who, Sunil? Other US Soccer employees? Again, while joking a bit about the odds against Seattle losing every flip, the truth of what Sigi was saying is evident- the USOC hosting procedure this year was not transparent.

    4) The rest of Sigi’s comments were plainly in favor of continuing to grow and boost the USOC as a tournament. Read them!

    5) Many of the rest of the comments in this thread are just stupid. Yes, the turf here in Seattle (about 300 yards away from my balcony!) was crap last year- it had originally attained a FIFA 2-star rating, then fell to a 1-star rating over time.

    The turf now, though, is pretty damn nice, because it’s NEW. 2-star rated, meaning World Cup games can be played on it.

    Yes, Sigi’s partly pulling people’s chains. He’s probably trying to create a bit of a diversion- good coaches do that, you know.

    The reality is that if you read all his comments in context, and include the fact that he was clearly joking and laughing during some of them, what you really see is that the Open Cup has been growing in status; that Sigi supports that fully and would like it to be even bigger; and that he thinks the lack of transparency in the process to determine the host field sucks.

    Can anyone here truly disagree with those actual points? (I know, of course you can, because we’re soccer fans and running on emotions and prejudice, not facts and logic.)


  • SMc

    Boy do I love a good storm in a tea cup.

    Sigi’s being Sigi, good and bad. I’m glad he cares about Open Cup. And he’s been around long enough to know that the group he implicates have massaged venue selections for political and marketing reasons in the past. (Rapids lost 10 flips in a row?)

    Having said that, US soccer should absolutely webcast the flip. MAKE it newsworthy!

    First, they should create a comically oversized coin with Sigis’s face and scarf on one side, and his considerable posterior on the flipside. Heck, name the thing after Schmid.

    Then make the flip look blatantly, obviously faked. Like… show it spinning then abruptly cut the tape and show it flat on the table, with Seattle losing.

    For the six or eight of of who would give a crap… ain’t we got fun!


  • SMc

    P.S. Since we got on the topic: Can’t all of you awesome NW soccer fans use your awesome fan power to get grass friggin’ fields? Yes, with mud and all? It would do a ton for the legitimacy of our league. I adore MLS and am psyched for the addition of your teams but FWIW (I know, I know) I won’t watch any games played at Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, New England…


  • Sounders fan since 1974

    We tried, really, we did.

    We, the soccer people of Seattle/King County, were sold a grass field when we voted for the new stadium.

    “Oh, yes, it will have to be grass so we can get an MLS team here.”

    Yeah, right…

    One Mr. Allen got the votes the field surface changed.

    Without the soccer community vote the Seahawks would still be playing in the Kingdome.


  • Das Meister

    If its a choice between Sigi Schmidt – a guy who leads the best attended American soccer club or the nitwit, shifty eyed, two-faced President /partner of NE Revolution … I’d pick Seattle’s best (or better).

    Gulati has done nothing to promote the Open Cup, not done anything to enhance the history and fabric of the game in America. It took him two tries to land an international coach for the MNT.

    If you have ever seen him walking along the hallways, he is the guy looking around to see who wants to punch him in the face. (and there are a lot of takers)

    Soccer is the only American sport that can have more than one competition for its pro teams – the more , the better I say.

    Gulati is a criminal in the FIFA element. Just put the draw on live stream already. Even if Sigi’s rants are baseless, it helps the game all together.

    If not, then I’ll go watch European leagues.


  • Kenneth Barr

    Let’s see, Sigi, you play before the highest attendances in MLS while the other guys play before a few hundred a match. You’d think US Soccer would fix it so you played ALL of your cup matches at home. Have you been talking to Trump lately?


  • Hattrick

    Actually I think the odds are 12.5% = .50 x .50 x .50 = .125 for three flips of the coin. for four flips its .0625

    Put it all on TV and stream it on the web then their is transparency !!!!


  • Andrea

    “It seems to land on the right side for K.C. and for D.C. United, whose president of one club and coach of the other (club) have been on the executive committee of U.S. Soccer — surprisingly.”
    Yes, transparency is needed. It looks bad to everyone when you see it from that perspective.


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