Open letter to Sounder at Heart, what exactly is the Sounders FC Ethos?

Advice requested for military dad on how to impart the Sounders Ethos to kids when transfer takes us away from Seattle.

Because it is two in the morning the week before final exams in law school, and my four month old son is wailing, so clearly the most pressing issue on my mind is how to impart the Sounders Ethos to him so he grows up to be a Sounder at Heart, even when we're no longer here in Seattle.

Ethos comprises the guiding beliefs and ideals of organization, and is informed by culture and philosophy. I'm in the military, and our service ethos is as guardians, informed by core values of honor, respect, and devotion to duty. Spain has their tiki-taka, which is informed by the realization that they couldn't compete with the size and brute strength of other nations, and developed a philosophy around possession and creativity. While this over-simplification is dangerous, I believe it's a useful starting point in describing the ethos of different clubs and nations. Ethos isn't static either. The Netherlands were clearly not playing Total Football in the 2010 world cup. Jogo Bonito isn't how you'd describe Brazil that same year, though many could argue that Garrincha is still the soul of jogo bonito. A club or a nation can be defined by a style of play, say Stoke City and the long ball[1], Swansea under Brendan Rodgers, Matt Doyle's description of American soccer: "run fast, try hard"[2], or the Timbers and their general ineptitude.

Part of the ethos at Osasuna, Athletic Bilbao, Barcelona, and Real is that they're owned by their socios (and not in a Green Bay Packers way either). Athletic has its cantera system that's exclusively Basque. The Japanese national team is called Zaccheroni Japan for his influence in funneling Japanese players to Italy and Germany since taking over in 2010. While I love the Sounders soccer culture beyond the field (supporter culture, democracy in sports, socio-historical roots and development of soccer in the PNW), what I'm most interested in is the identity of the club's on the field tactical and strategic culture, and how that informs the broader ethos of the club.

Not to say that off-the-field supporter or social culture is divorced from the ethos of the club, it's just that I'd like to be able to explain to my son what's happening on the pitch, and specifically why we're playing the way we are. I want to use the on-the-pitch tactical decisions to explain the club ethos. I want him to be able to appreciate the contributions from players that are not readily apparent.

And the place that has best met this need is Sounder at Heart. The reason why I'm obsessed with this website is not only for the articles on tactics, but the things I've learned just in reading the discussion threads.

But something has been bothering me. While articles like this, this, and this are the main reason why I'm addicted to this site, as a soccer noob, I'd like to know what informs the tactics on the field. Is Sigi's arrow borne out of the limitations of the abilities of the players? From an uneducated standpoint, it seemed like less of our play this year was based off of short passes in the final third, and more crosses in from the flanks to GAM's forehead. Is there an overriding philosophy that dictates what type of player the team is looking to bring in, or do we play to fit the situation? Clearly, we do both, but what's the controlling philosophy? Is the on-the-field ethos of the teamed defined by one personality, or is it defined by a tactical philosophy? As a poor analogy, if Ichiro embodied a certain cultural value in the way he played the game vs. a distinct home-run oriented culture, what does the actual product on the field tell us about the Sounders? Are we limited by player ability and expression, or are we limited by the tactical approach of the coaches?

Let me explain where I'm coming from. I'm originally from Seattle, and grew up a Sonics fan. I didn't have any particular attraction to soccer simply because I wasn't exposed to it. However, after leaving Seattle and joining the military, I continued to follow the Sonics by reading the Seattle P-I (RIP), and because I yearned for something, anything to anchor me to a semblance of home, I began to read about the Sounders online, following the exploits of this Fredy Montero kid. After the Sonics debacle, I swore off basketball and fell in love with soccer. My first MLS match was the Man-U friendly. And while the match was forgettable, Mauro's play on that night down right wing defined everything that made me a Sounder at Heart from that day on. Mauro's creativity, ability to get out of tight spaces, and passing and vision won me over. That being said, I knew nothing about tactics and soccer in general, but I wanted to watch more. I was hooked. To a certain degree, Mauro's style of play represented a certain ethos that I appreciated. The first home game against RSL this year, when Ozzie tackled two players in quick succession, and was still unable to get the ball, and ran and tackled a third, all seemingly within a span of two seconds, that represented another aspect of the Sounders ethos. But regardless of these individual playing styles and positional responsibilities, I still feel a bit lost as far as all the individual pieces fit together.

All of which is to say, Dave, Abbott, Jeremiah, can we have more tactical discussions that tie in the ethos of the club?

FanPosts only represent the opinions of the poster, not of Sounder at Heart.

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