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The SBI View: Sounders should part ways with Sigi Schmid

Photo by Jennifer Buchanan/USA Today Sports

Photo by Jennifer Buchanan/USA Today Sports

The Seattle Sounders are supposed to be competing for a championship, not one of the first picks in the 2017 MLS Draft.

Yet it is the latter scenario that the Sounders frustratingly find themselves in through nearly two-thirds of the season. The club is 10 points shy of a playoff spot in the bruising Western Conference after playing 20 games, and a major contributing factor is its inability to find the back of the net. The Sounders currently have just 20 goals to their name, which is currently the third-worst haul in MLS and has them sitting in ninth place in the west.

Losing star forward Obafemi Martins was a massive blow to a Sounders side that relied heavily on the speedy Nigerian to score and create goals. Overcoming his absence was, however, was something the Sounders thought they could accomplish.

“Ultimately this transaction gives us roster and salary cap flexibility heading into our 2016 MLS season, including the opening of a Designated Player position,” Sounders general manager and president of soccer Garth Lagerwey said back in February. “We have a talented and capable group in our locker room, and we’re excited for the year ahead.”

It has been far from exciting in Seattle this year, and Sunday’s 3-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City underlined just how bad things are right. Not only was the Sounders’ anemic attack held without a single shot until the 88th minute when a low drive was hit well wide of frame by Joevin Jones, but players across multiple positions looked dispirited, defeated, and downright bad. You only had to see Sporting KC’s gift of a final goal to get an understanding of that.

Clearly things are getting worse for the Sounders before they are getting better, and change is sorely needed. An addition like the reported Nicolas Lodeiro arrival should help improve things, but a bigger shakeup is needed, starting with the firing of long-time head coach Sigi Schmid.

Schmid has undeniably had plenty of success with the Sounders since the club made the jump to MLS seven seasons ago, including winning an impressive four U.S. Open Cup titles and claiming the Supporters’ Shield in 2014. He has also turned the Sounders into a perennial contender for MLS Cup, guiding them to a pair of Western Conference finals in 2012 and 2014.

MLS’s major prize has continued to allude him in Seattle, though, and winning it now seems more improbable than ever before. The Sounders have produced some good moments of play in the new 4-3-3 formation that Schmid opted to go with this season but it has yielded precious few goals and results. Schmid has also not found a way to get the best out of Designated Player Nelson Haedo Valdez, who, despite his pedigree, has scored just once in league play since arriving last summer and zero times since August.

The 63-year-old Schmid also seems to be out of answers for how to solve his team’s finishing woes, insisting time and again that goals would come so long as the Sounders continued to create chances.

“We just have to continue to play the way we’re playing, because our tactics were right,” said Schmid after the Sounders misfired their way to a 2-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls in June. “We talked about the tactics and we talked about how we wanted to play and the guys followed that, and I thought we opened them up fairly well.”

The goals have not come and neither have the results, leaving the club in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since they moved to MLS in 2009.

To Schmid’s defense, the aging Clint Dempsey has missed significant time this year, promising youngster Jordan Morris is still learning what life is like in the pros, and Valdez is not producing. Still, all of that is not reason enough for a team like the Sounders to be out of the playoff picture, let alone near the bottom of the Western Conference standings.

That is why Schmid needs to go. It is not that he is a bad coach – his resume speaks for itself – but his time in Seattle has run its course. His methods have grown stale, and some new blood and ideas are needed to freshen things up and potentially turn this thing around before it is too late. If it is not already.

There was uncertainty as to whether Schmid would return to the Sounders a couple of seasons ago after the club fell short in the playoffs again, but he was signed to a multi-year extension with the target of helping the Sounders lift their first MLS Cup trophy.

Barring some remarkable turnaround, that does not seem to be in the cards this year. Not with the status quo. The Sounders have lost their way, and Schmid needs to be axed after failing to guide the Sounders into a better position.

That might be a tough pill for Schmid to swallow, but even he might agree at this point.

“It’s a results-oriented business. I know that as well as anybody,” said Schmid after a 2-1 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps back in March. “At the end of the day, we’ve got to start getting some results or quite a few of us could be looking for new jobs.”

26 comments
  • Paul Lorinczi

    How much of it can be attributed to Garth Lagerway? Since his arrival, have the Sounders really been that good? How much say does Sigi have on the roster building?

    Like

    • Gary Page

      Exactly my thought. It’s obvious that selling Martins was a huge mistake, especially since they off loaded Neagle and Pappa, too. Was that something Sigi approved? The Sounders undoubtedly saved a lot of money that way, but at what cost in success? The idea that changing coaches will help when the problem is the player pool is typically short sighted. I remember a couple of years ago when a number of people were saying he needed to go and then the next year, after Dempsey had a chance to adjust to the league, they won the Supporters Shield. BTW, that year Martins had 13 assists and 17 goals.

      Like

      • AWay

        Worth noting here that the Martins transfer was player driven, not front office driven. Obviously they could have said no, but the feeling was (from the outside looking in) that an unhappy Martins was probably going to be worse than no Martins.

        Like

      • johnnyrazorI

        1. Martins wanted to go, there was no way Seattle was going to pay him that salary and Nigeria wasn’t showing a lot of interest so the move shouldn’t effect his national team prospects. He’s 31 and doesn’t have a lot of years left so why deny him that opportunity. Its certainly an American idea to block a players move to a team that they want to go to. Does anyone think Dortmund wanted to see their best defender go to their biggest rival or that Bayern wanted to send Goetze back to BvB? As long as the deal is reasonable the deal is almost always made. People should look at this guide to how transfers work put out by ESPN FC. http://espn.go.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/12038766/how-transfer-works

        2. All the talk leading up to the start of the season was how would Seattle balance the three strikers Morris, Dempsey, and Martins. Problem solved, they’d just payed Morris the highest homegrown contract they were going to play him. The problem is that Morris may equal Obafemi’s goal tally, but he doesn’t link with Dempsey and make Clint better like Martins did.

        3. Where Seattle failed was not being able to get a deal done for an attacking midfielder to feed Morris and Deuce. There were rumors that a big signing was near this Spring it still has not materialized.

        Like

  • Old School

    No matter the sport or locker room, at some point, the voice of the manager begins to be tuned out. However, who exactly are realistic candidates to replace him?

    In order for MLS to take the next step, we need to upgrade our managers pool drastically. It’s incredibly average at best and lacking any innovation or advancement from the status quo.

    Like

    • Gary Page

      Maybe they should get experienced managers from overseas, from top leagues. You know, someone like Owen Coyle. Ooops.

      Like

      • Old School

        Oh, you mean like Patrick Vieira? “Ooops.”

        Perhaps if MLS wasn’t so ridiculous and had mickey mouse rules more managers from abroad could adapt and properly build a functional squad, too.

        …but yea, let’s stay with the status quo. Failure sure is scary when the alternative is more of the same!

        Like

    • Five Stars Upon Thars

      It’d be interesting if a MLS side would go after someone like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

      Like

      • johnnyrazorI

        Hasn’t done much with Molde since his return at least in league play, maintained the clubs Europa League group stage lead. Team is struggling this season in 8th place.

        Like

    • Quit Whining About Soccer in the US

      Even in an article where they want to fire an entrenched MLS coach who is not winning, people will find a way to whine.

      Like

  • TheFrenchOne

    I’m a Galaxy fan, but want Sounders to be better. But this article seems like an overreaction. They have 2 games in hand over the 5th and 6th place teams in the West and they lost their main scoring threat for 6 weeks. I don’t think they’ll have any trouble making the playoffs in this forgiving MLS format.

    Like

    • Five Stars Upon Thars

      That’s probably why Orlando made their move so fast. They could probably scenes Lagerway would want to reunite with Kreis soon.

      Like

  • bottlcaps

    I think the article is an overreaction. All teams go through slumps, Sigi may not get them far this year, but because they lost one Obefemi Martins, and then Clint Dempsey to Nat duty and injury, I can cut him some slack. Of course, I’ve know Sigi for 45 years since we were in high school together and I have seen him bounce back with great teams. remember Sigi was FIRED from the LA Galaxy WHEN THEY WERE IN FIRST PLACE!! so he’s seen it all.

    I agree with Bruce Arena who said they will not see a better coach. Just give him time and money, some respect and he’ll be back with a playoff contender, if not this year, then next.

    Like

  • Five Stars Upon Thars

    The Sounders can’t get the first overall pick in the coming SuperDaft, no matter how poorly they finish the season. Atlanta automatically gets the #1 pick.

    Like

    • Five Stars Upon Thars

      Exactly. The editors noticed the obvious error at the top of the article and changed the wording.

      What would of been better is, “The Seattle Sounders are supposed to be competing for one of the top spots in the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs, not one of the top picks in the 2017 MLS Draft.

      Like

  • Mr. Maxican

    If he does part ways I’m sure Houston would be calling him within the hour.

    Like

  • CU24

    He should have been fired a while ago, the fact that he wasn’t reflects badly on both the Sounders and MLS. It is quite clear that the team has given up on him and the season. While no one disputes his past achievements, Sigi has shown to lack the tactical nous needed to keep up with the times as MLS has evolved from the kick and run methods used in days past. Much like DCU in ’13, the lack of pressure felt at the top is damning to the soft soccer culture MLS has incubated.

    Like

  • johnnyrazorI

    A return to Colombus could be in the cards if Berhalter can’t get that situation figured out.

    Like

  • Trey

    Just from the sheer production of Martens they lost, I’m honestly not surprised. Did anyone think Morris was going to put as much as Oba in his rookie year? That’s not the only reason their numbers are down, but it’s a big one.

    Like

  • Quit Whining About Soccer in the US

    As a Sounder’s fan, I don’t have the same opinion of all of the fans, but I say that we need a midfield. Don’t know that I blame Sigi for that, but it has been 7 years with a very talented team for him, time to move on. Celebrate what he did, move on, win the MLS Cup.

    Like

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