If you listened to the latest edition of Nos Audietis you now doubt heard my rather colorful metaphor ladened rant against Jürgen Klinsmann and the ever increasing reality of him depleting the Sounders' roster at a crucial time for meaningless international matches.
If you didn't hear it, feel free to go back and check it out and then read on. Don't worry though, this post will still make sense even if you can't, don't want to or just think I'm a loud and foul-mouthed ranting maniac.
I've had a couple days to think about what I said and while I stand by it 100%, I also realize that this situation is not of Klinsmann's making, nor entirely his fault. He's certainly complicit in the latest edition of 'Grand Theft Roster: Emerald City' but the situation facing Sigi Schmid is not a new one, nor is it something that the team didn't realize was likely to happen.
It still sucks. It sucks big time, hell, in the immortal words of well-known social observationalist Butthead -- of Beavis & Butthead fame -- this sucks more than anything that has ever sucked before.
In defense of Klinsmann he does have legitimate reasons to call in as close to a normal USMNT roster as possible. There's limited time left in the international calendar for him to have his team together for competitive matches between now and next summer's World Cup. Clint Dempsey is his captain, Eddie Johnson has been effective for the US and Brad Evans covers a weak spot in the roster.
However the USMNT has already qualified. These final two CONCACAF hexagonal matches are essentially meaningless to the USA.
Klinsmann should be more aware of the club situations his players are leaving behind but that's not his job. Since we know the German at least appears hostile towards MLS' scheduling situation and know the league is doing nothing to properly acknowledge international breaks, we're left to wonder if he has any motivation to play ball.
In defense of my own views and those of many Sounders' fans, we -- yep I said we, this will probably get me all sorts of tweets again -- have every right to be completely pissed about the fact our team is being neutered during a week that could help decide both Seattle's chances of winning the Supporter's Shield and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Not to mention the fact that Dempsey has been sidelined by a hamstring problem and isn't healthy enough to play for the Sounders at this point.
The idea of him sitting on the bench for the US rather than rehabbing with Seattle's medical team is bad enough. Imagine if Klinsmann plays him and he aggravates the injury.
Both sides have a point and both sides have legitimate, defensible reasons for their feelings and decisions. Which leaves us starting at the real enemy of this story, the true bad guy, our Thanos the Eternal if you will....Major League Soccer.
This is all their fault after all. They are the ones who have remained unwilling to honor the FIFA international calendar and not play matches during sanctioned international breaks. MLS has been perfectly content to allow their biggest stars to be whisked away from their clubs and leave them to fill in the holes with limited salary space and restrictive roster rules.
Unfortunately, even MLS has reasons for their choices.
Not playing during international breaks means more mid-week games. Mid-week games, at this point in MLS' development, equals lower attendance numbers and less revenue for teams hosting games. Pretty much every team in MLS would prefer playing weekend games because it leads to bigger gates, more concession sales and in the end, more money.
Even with that justification and the fact I understand the reasoning, I like the idea of leaving MLS as the enemy on this topic because it's fun and it make me feel better dammit.
So that leaves us with the ugly reality that the Sounders are likely to be missing three starters for massively important matches against the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Portland Timbers. Games that will all but decide the Cascadia Cup, games that could end up costing the Sounders the Supporter's Shield and/or home field advantage.
There is a bright side though. The Sounders have been rather adept over the past couple months at managing to get results with players missing for whatever the reason. It's something they're grown used to so it's not like it will derail the team...but it still sucks.
The only way this will change is if teams like Seattle start to rattle MLS' cages and make a stink about situations just like this. There's already been talk from the league offices about reducing the schedule in the future to allow games to remain predominately on the weekend but remove the need for increased mid-week games. This decision seems illogical because rather than reduced revenue options, you're eliminating chunks of potential revenue entirely.
There's not an easy answer but something has to be done because this is simply not competitively fair.
Thus we get
trolls fans of other MLS teams on social media -- who will be crying to the heavens once their team has a national team player that keeps getting yanked away at key moments -- an ever growing army of annoying keyboard warriors who just hate Seattle and want to paint Sounders fans as whiners. That's absurd but what else are we to expect from the "Big Soccer" crowd.
What we're left with, as Sounders fans, is the reality that the team is going to be without key players for key games.
We're left with a league that doesn't seem overly concerned, at least not publicly, about the situation and a national team manager that seems more and more comfortable with using MLS-based talent but increasingly unwilling to work with the scheduling truths that the league faces.
Stuck in the middle are players that want to represent their national team, teams that are helping pay the bills wondering why they're being forced to play matches with chunks of their roster gone. And of course, the fans.
It really is an ugly mess isn't it? Things are made all the worse by the lack of a clear-cut, easy solution.