I have a question for you this week loyal readers of Sounder at Heart. Can you -- or are you willing to -- embrace a philosophy of "In Sigi We Trust"?
On this week's edition of Nos Audities we discussed the fact that Sigi Schmid is about to have some major decisions to make with several players getting healthy and/or returning from international duty. With the players who've stepped up into roles over the past few weeks doing an extremely good job -- Lamar Neagle and Andy Rose come to mind -- Sigi must balance the needs of his team with the egos and desire to play all of his players.
How he handles things will likely be key in how successful the Sounders are this season and with only the MLS Cup and Supportes' Shield left on the table in terms of possible trophies, the pressure will be amplified.
Which brings be mack to my initial question. Can you -- or are you willing to -- embrace a philosophy of "In Sigi We Trust"?
Perhaps you already have and in your mind there's no better person to be leading the Sounders than Siegfried Schmid. I could certainly understand if you're wary of fully accepting the philosophy, especially since Sigi has failed to deliver the most coveted prize in the league. Perhaps your expectations for this team have been too high, as after all, you're only five years removed from joining the league as an expansion team.
Even with excellent ownership and a willingness to do what it takes to win, building champions takes time. Since MLS began expanding again in 2005 -- after some perilous years that saw the league retract teams and nearly collapse -- there have been eight expansion teams added.
While Real Salt Lake remains the only team in that group to have won the MLS Cup, no one has had the success seen by the Sounders. Three US Open Cup titles, a trip to the playoffs in all four years of their existence, that's very solid. In fact, it's better than solid.
The Sounders have won three major trophies -- and all comments about the Open Cup I've made aside, it's a major trophy in the lexicon of American soccer -- in four and a half seasons. That's more major titles than six teams currently playing in MLS and four of those teams (FC Dallas/Dallas Burn, NYRB/Metrostars, Columbus Crew and Colorado Rapids) are original franchises that have been playing since 1996.
You don't need me to tell you this, obviously, but it never hurts to put things in perspective at times in order to remember just how good things have been for Seattle soccer fans in recent years. Sure it took awhile for everything to happen and there are plenty of arguments to be made that the city should have been involved sooner, but what are you going to do.
The Sounders have had only one head coach since joining MLS and while stability isn't always the answer or a guarantee to winning titles, there's something to be said about giving a coach time to develop a system and bring in the right players to execute it.
Despite the relative success, there have been concerns raised at times about Sigi and his leadership. It's a natural reaction of fans, it happens to the best of coaches at some point and there's nothing at all wrong with. However at some point you have to decide if you like your head coach enough to forgive them mistakes and not winning something meaningful at every turn.
So I ask you Sounders fans. If Sigi is your guy and he's willing to stay in Seattle long term, are you willing to embrace the "In Sigi We Trust" philosophy?
Are you willing to accept mistakes, trip-ups and potential failures as acceptable because the overall product that Sigi is creating is successful and positive enough. It's a philosophy that has worked well in Houston -- admittedly winning two MLS Cups helped -- and it's one that can lead to a more enjoyable overall experience, especially if things go wrong during a season.
At its core, the philosophy is simply that on the darkest day of your fandom, you still believe that the leadership of the team can, and will, fix the issues and find a way to win in the long run.
I'm just curious what you think.