Scintillating Seattle Sounders Scandals Synopsis

That's a yellow for murder - Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

In the midst of the Vancouver-Camilo-Querétaro controversy brewing, we take a look at the bad press Seattle Sounders have received during their tenure in MLS.

A story developing both North and South of the border, Whitecaps striker Camilo Sanvezzo and Mexican side Querétaro have seemingly reached a contract agreement that will see the diminutive Brazilian play for the Liga MX side. However, before we say our fond farewells and usher the MLS Golden Boot (and goal of the year) winner out of the proverbial MLS doors, Vancouver has reiterated that Camilo is under contract with them, and cannot, legally, sign a contract with Querétaro. Drama! But this isn’t a Lifetime movie, this is real life. Here in real life we call this type of drama a controversy. We don’t say, "How dramatic," but instead it’s scandalous; totally a scandal.

"Any press is good press," some idiot once said. None of the parties involved here look good; not MLS, Vancouver, Querétaro, Camilo, or Camilo’s agent. Grievances will be filed. FIFA will tap into their infinite wisdom and staggering wealth of knowledge to mediate dictate the ultimate outcome of this event. It won’t be pretty.

No matter how this controversy resolves, nobody will walk out of this cleanly. With precedents being set with Mexes-Roma, Bueno-Rodriguez, and Almirón and Kyrgiakos, this could go either direction, the hope being that it doesn’t rock the boat too much, that MLS teams’ preference to do club options doesn’t become completely exploitable by overzealous players, agents, and acquiring teams and a lenient FIFA.

Vancouver didn’t ask for this. They signed a talented player on a team friendly contract and said player has outperformed his contract. That’s a song with which Sounders fans are very familiar. I’m not going to specifically call out that player, but his name rhymes with Ready Rohnson.

And so this got me thinking, has the Seattle Sounders organization ever been embroiled in such scandalous affairs? Not to the extent of the Camilo-Vancouver-Querétaro brouhaha, no, but surely they’ve had some bad press over the years. With the help of the other contributors and writers, I’ve compiled a list of Sounders "scandals" over the course of their MLS tenure.

Expansion team Seattle Sounders sign reigning MLS Cup winning Manager Sigi Schmid - 2008

Wait, that doesn’t sound scandalous, that sounds like a savvy front office move to hire an obviously talented head coach. Not to Columbus, it wasn’t. Columbus accused Seattle of tampering, which I guess is wrong and stuff. Seattle said, "Nuh uh!" and so Columbus filed a formal complaint with the league. But wait, there’s more! If Hollywood has taught me anything it’s that there’s usually more with scandals, layers upon layers.

Columbus also cited that in their contract with Sigi, they included a clause that stated Schmid couldn’t coach another MLS team in 2009. That’s a poison pill if I ever saw one! What a way to end Act 2! What happened in Act 3?

After the league came back and said that Seattle didn’t tamper with Schmid in acquiring his coaching services, the Sounders paid Columbus a little bit of money to release Sigi from his non-compete clause, which caused Columbus to say the following:

Sigi Schmid has formally declined our last contract offer and will not be returning as head coach of the Columbus Crew ... We respect his desire to seek the next challenge and wish him nothing but the best.

Nice way to start off an expansion team.

Link

Camilo’s Scandal Rating:

3of5_medium

2010 Season Ticket Prices – 2009

This scandal is so huge it’s actually a two-parter! "Whaaaa?!" you might be saying. "I know, right?" is what I’d say back. You see, back in the inaugural 2009 MLS season, the Sounders sold season tickets. "I know, right?" When it came time to renew season tickets for the 2010 season, those original STH were offered discounted rates, but the prices went up. And again, in for their third MLS season, the Sounders increased season ticket prices again, and gave a discount to the inaugural STH’s. Scandalous! Or is it?

Well, it kinda is. See, remember back when everybody was unemployed and nobody made any money and there was 99% of something rioting and living in our parks? That was the same time season ticket prices saw an increase of 20-25%. Whoa! That’s a lot. Why so much of an increase? Well, because the Sounders had added three midseason friendlies to the schedule, three unneeded games which would be included in the season ticket package. Oh, and the STH-renewal discount? Yeah, it only counted if you were an inaugural STH. Was this Seattle’s way of saying they didn’t care about bandwagon fans? No, it’s just economics.

Okay, it’s not really a two-parter, but I’m trying to tell a narrative here, so cut me some slack.

Link 1 Link 2

Camilo’s Scandal Rating:

1of5_medium

Freddie Ljungberg becomes a disgruntled (ex)employee – 2010

Admittedly, I don’t remember much of this ordeal. I know that Ljungberg had drama with his Sounders momma, but he was a high profile signee from the get-go whose relationship with Seattle eventually deteriorated. Why? Well, our very own Jeremiah Oshan wrote it much more eloquently than I could have:

"What exactly happened to sour the relationship is still not entirely clear. We do know that the season got off to a rocky start as Ljungberg arrived late for training camp, continued to worsen as he and the team struggled, reached somewhat of a boiling point when Schmid openly criticized Ljungberg's complaining to referees and essentially ended when Sounders ownership rebuffed Ljungberg's in-season request for a contract extension.

After being traded, Ljungberg said the decision not to play and to practice separately from teammates was the choice of the Sounders, not his.

He reiterated that stance during a conference call on Friday.

"My contract was up in November," Ljungberg said. "There was a lot of interest in me this summer. I asked when we were going to negotiate this contract. I was told after the contract was up. I have to be realistic, I'm 33 and I can’t just sit and wait.

"I passed some stuff by in the winter and did that for Seattle. I need to make a decision. There was nothing like hard feelings either way. Sigi didn’t let me train with the team, that’s one thing I’ll never understand."

With both sides clearly moving on, it seems there is little reason for either side to shed much more light than this."

So yeah, that happened. Awkward. Ljungberg got traded to Chicago, creating a relationship between the two cities where both teams would jettison disappointing DP contracts between one another. Just kidding! Have fun with our sloppy seconds, Chicago!

Link 1 Link 2 Link 3

Camilo’s Scandal Rating:

3of5_medium

Jeff Parke Saga – 2008 – 2010

Former Sounder/Redbull/Whitecap Jeff Parke now plays for Philadelphia Union. If you didn’t know, the Union is a team in the MLS Eastern Conference. Who knew?! Fun fact, Philadelphia was the first capital of the United States of America #historyisweird.

Did you know that Jeff Parke was taken by Seattle in the expansion draft, who was left unprotected by his former employer the New York Red Bulls? Did you know that in 2008 he was suspended, along with goalkeeper Jon Conway, for then league-record 10 games for taking over-the-counter Performance Enhancing drugs? Did you know that at the time of the expansion draft Parke didn’t have a contract with the MLS? Did you know that he wanted more money from Seattle and MLS than they were willing to pay? Did you know that instead of falling in line and accepting a salary he deemed unacceptable and playing by MLS rules, he played for the USL side Vancouver Whitecaps while Seattle sat on his rights? Well if you didn’t, now you do. You just learned!

Parke Quote:

"They gave me a number and at the end of the day I didn't agree with it," Parke said of his final contract talks with New York. "That was that. I obviously had some hurt and some anger toward the club for how it was handled and how I was kind of just left by myself."

Can’t fault the guy. After "sitting out" 2009 with Vancouver, Parke and Seattle reached a deal that brought the defender to Seattle, until he asked to be traded to the Union after the 2012 season, where, in 2013, he played in 20 league games for the Philly side.

Parke bit his thumb at the crazy rules of the MLS.

Link 1 Link 2

Camilo’s Scandal Rating:

1of5_medium

Blaise Nkufo is released right before 2011 season – 2011


In hindsight Mr. Nkufo would rather retire than play a target forward. Well that would’ve been nice to know before we acquired him and slapped a DP tag on his awesome name. But instead Seattle did acquire him in the second half of the 2010 season, and leading into Seattle’s third season, we fans were looking forward to a Nkufo-Montero pairing up top, with Jaqua and newly acquired O’Brian White as backup. Oh yeah, Sounders gonna be number one! Sounders gonna win the MLS Cu-oh wait, he what? He’s been released? But, but the season is about to start? Why? That’s, that doesn’t make sense. Wait, he didn’t want to be a target forward? But he’s huge, he scored a hat trick for us as a target forward. This just doesn’t make sense.

There may have been my thoughts when I heard this announcement. Those may have been your thoughts too. We have so much in common. The severed tie was complete, it seemed the Sounders bought-out Nkufo’s contract and he was done. Seattle freed up a DP slot and O’Brian White scored an amazing headed goal against Chicago and Sounders fans were like, Nkuf-who? During his time the Swiss forward scored 5 goals in 16 matches with Seattle. He never had a professional contract again.

Link

Camilo’s Scandal Rating:

3of5_medium

USSF Awards SKC USOC Final – 2012

Okay, I’ll admit I’m still a little upset about this one. I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist, but when there’s smoke there’s some assholes flipping coins that never come up in Seattle’s favor. Back in the blind-bid era of the US Open Cup who’s-gonna-host-the-game system, Seattle rarely went on the road. They understood the value of the tournament as a way into CCL, and knew that they had distinct home field advantage at Starfire and Qwest/Century Link Field. Sounders rode this blue-print to three straight USOC Championships, a feat which hadn’t been done since the Vietnam War; and I wasn’t even alive back then so it might as well have been the 1860’s.

Then, before the semi-finals, the USSF went all douche-mode and awarded the finals to Sporting Kansas City, which didn’t seem at all to be sporting. How did they determine who hosted? A coin-flip. "Wait, but what about the blind bids," everybody said. "They were equal bids," the USSF lied. Which, as we all knew, was a crock of Schmid. See, it wasn’t just money that was included in the bid, it was other intangibles, like prestige, ticket sales, exposure, community involvement, etc. And there’s no way the two blind bids could be equal, since there’s non-quantifiable entities included in said bids. But the bids were equal, a coin was flipped, and Seattle lost, which was like the 10th lost coin flip in a row, it seemed. Statistically there’s a 0.01% chance of losing 10 coin flips in a row.

Of course we all know the outcome, Seattle went on to lose the final in Kansas City in what was a totally fair and reasonable outcome. Except that’s absolutely not the case! The whole thing leaves me steamed. Peeved even. I’m peeved.

Link

Camilo’s Scandal Rating:

4of5_medium

Fredy Montero and Eddie Johnson engage in fisticuffs – 2012


The rumors of this dust-up first appeared when ESPN stuck its big corporate nose where it didn’t belong and blabbed about it during live broadcasts when Seattle played New York. Then Taylor Twellman did it again when Seattle played Chelsea the following week. So now it became a story, because Twellman made it a story.

Bad-personality-possessor Kyle Martino asked Sigi Schmid about a potential altercation that came to blows between Fredy Montery and Eddie Johnson. This is what the ol’ skipper had to say:

"They're probably not the only ones who had a punchup at practice," Schmid said. "I've rarely had a team where that didn't happen."

It seemed like a bunch of hullabaloo over nothing. Soccer is a passionate sport played by passionate men. As long as it doesn’t affect their on-field performance, does it really matter?

At the time this was a big deal; the first crack in the EJ-Sounders relationship armor. Hindsight being what it is, it might have happened where the two forwards started punching each other. But now neither one of them are Sounders, with Fredy finding success in Portugal and Eddie now plying his trade in America’s new capital. Take that, Philly!

Link

Camilo’s Scandal Rating:

2of5_medium

Marc Burch says a few naughty words – 2012


What do you do when your backup Left Back and resident hair-model is caught on cameras saying homophobic slurs? Why, you allow the league to fine and suspend him, of course. That situation played out for the world to see during a playoff series between Seattle and RSL, where Marc Burch said a few choice words to the newly married (to a woman) Kyle Beckerman friendly Canadian, and generally well-liked, Will Johnson.

Sounder at Heart’s very own Aaron Campeau wrote a beautiful open letter to Mr. Burch. We were all disappointed to see our team and our city associated with such hateful words. We, as a city, as fans, and the Sounders should be better than that.

To his credit, Marc Burch apologized and accepted his punishment and now he and Mr. Beckerman can face each other three times a season in the Rocky Mountain Cup.

Link 1 Link 2 Link 3

Camilo’s Scandal Rating:

4of5_medium


MLS files claim to trademark Cascadia Cup – 2012 – 2013


This one caught us all off guard. In a backhanded move, MLS filed claims to the trademark rights to the Cascadia Cup. We all know what that is, and that it was first started by Portland, Vancouver, and Seattle’s respective supporter groups. And then out of nowhere MLS comes out and yoinks the rights, trying to take it like a bully.

It wasn’t pretty. The Cascadia Cup Council was created in an attempt to fight this takeover. MLS cited they were doing it under an altruistic attempt to protect the cup from third-party abuse, or otherwise known as "Oh fiddlesticks, this backfired! Quick lawyer, use your lawyer-speak to make this not look as bad as it looks."

Ultimately a resolution was reached in July that announced the Cascadia Cup Council will own the trademark and that no third-party would be able to monetize said Cascadia Cup without agreement of the Council and MLS. So I guess through their brutish ways, MLS brought the supporter groups together and made the Cascadia Cup stronger, which was totally their intention all along. Totally.

Link 1 Link 2 Link 3 Link 4

Camilo’s Scandal Rating:

5of5_medium


Security Theater Snafu – 2013


In the 4th of July weekend celebration game, Seattle Sounders hosted bottom-dwellers D.C. United in front of a packed house of 40,000 fans. Well eventually packed house, because thousands of fans waited outside the gates for seemingly forever waiting to get detected for metal by an inept security team wielding wands. It’s like the Ministry for Magic all over again, am I right guys? Guys?!

It was an embarrassment. Fans were all atwitter on twitter about the whole shebang, words were exchanged, tears were shed, and a victory was secured by Seattle.

The Sounders official website had this to say:

"We apologize for any inconvenience and delays in entering the stadium for tonight's match. We did not have adequate points of entry for wanding. We completely understand your frustration."

So yeah, thanks for your understanding. Didn’t do us a whole lot of good at the time though. The organization ironed out some wrinkles and it was "better" as the season progressed, but still wholly unnecessary.

Links:

Link

Camilo’s Scandal Rating:

3of5_medium


Clint Dempsey signs with Seattle – 2013


While the acquisition of Clint Dempsey isn’t a scandal in and of itself, the manner in which the MLS facilitated said transfer created quite the controversy. In the most MLS-Gonna-MLS fashion, MLS MLS’d. Allocation Order? What’s that for? Certainly not for acquiring returning USMNT players, that’s for sure, at least not when you slap a DP tag on them, according to the MLS. "News to us," said every other team in the league, bitter and sore.

Being a single-entity league can help facilitate opaque moves, such as the Clint Dempsey transfer. Portland Timbers caused a fuss over it, since they were above Seattle in allocation order and should’ve had first crack at signing Dempsey. Should’ve. But they didn’t. And so thus a fuss was born. A legitimate gripe too, if we ignore Valeri and Urruti, which we do because of narrative.

The simple fact was that before the Dempsey transfer occurred, a returning USMNT had never joined the league at DP level, so this issue had never popped up before. Now we know. And knowing is half the battle. And Deuce is a real American hero.

Except for when Claudio Reyna joined NYRB, but that was like, what, 7 years ago? Yeah, the times, they are a changin’.

Links:

Link

Camilo Scandal Rating:

2of5_medium


Eddie Johnson ‘Pay Me’ Celebration – 2013


For the 2012 season, the Sounders brought in Eddie Johnson at a very team friendly deal with tons of team options. Then the player out-performed his salary and felt underpaid. Sound familiar, Vancouver? The manner in which Eddie Johnson brought forth this news of an apparent lack of monetary-underappreciation was less than ideal.

In a game against Columbus, Eddie Johnson scored a header off a free kick for the 10-man Sounders.

Eddie-pay-me-johnson_jpg_medium

via lh6.googleusercontent.com

Well that was awkward.

This celebration sparked off a big kerfuffle over EJ’s maturity, place on the team, commitment, and a myriad of other issues one could construe from this situation. Adrian Hanauer came out and admitted that Eddie is absolutely indeed underpaid, which we all acknowledge, but that it would be handled behind closed doors. In hindsight, Eddie’s going to get his payday as a Designated Player for DC United, but he sure did make things uncomfortable for a bit.

Links:

Link

Camilo’s Scandal Rating:

3of5_medium


Sigi Schmid kicks Eddie Johnson out of practice – 2013


Goodness, this Eddie Johnson character sure is scandalous. This is entry three on the former KC Wizard and current DC United player. Amid the worst losing streak in team history and an epic collapse that left us Sounders fans floundering for answers, Sigi Schmid put Eddie Johnson in timeout. Now we don’t know exactly why EJ was held out of practice, but after his departure some anonymous sources have stated he was kind of a bad teammate. So take from that what you will. Anonymous sources are the worst.

With the combination of his penchant for punching teammates, pay-me celebrations, and now this public discipline, Sounderland was abuzz with EJ scandals. It all added into the story, and prompted Dave Clark to write an article telling us to cool our jets until we know the full story.

The quotes resulting from this were the standard sports clichés, allowing it to blow over as quickly as it would allow. No big deal, right?

Doesn’t matter now, it’s not our problem anymore. Thanks for the Funny Money, DC!

Links:

Link 1 Link 2

Camilo’s Scandal Rating:

2of5_medium

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot username?

We'll email it to you.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Try another email?

Forgot username?

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Sounder At Heart

You must be a member of Sounder At Heart to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Sounder At Heart. You should read them.

Join Sounder At Heart

You must be a member of Sounder At Heart to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Sounder At Heart. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9353_tracker