After the Timbers ousted the Sounders from the playoffs, there was one particular quote from Sigi Schmid that stood out.
"It's disappointing, but when you're adding people during the season it's sometimes tough...We were never able to build upon that and never be able to get the roles down. The roles for people were changing and the roles for people today in the game changed; all that makes it tough."
Schmid was talking about the disappointment of the season ending, but the topic of the roles of people changing was an interesting one.
Now, it is no secret that the Sounders used a varied line-up this season, running approximately 1,037 different versions of the same team on the field throughout the season. But, for much of the season, whatever hodgepodge version of the line-up was on the field was working. The Sounders were at the top of the table and legitimate contenders for the Supporters Shield. Then, all of a sudden, we weren't.
There are a lot of questions as to what happened at the end of the season. There are just as many answers, some more legitimate than others. This isn't meant to be a declaration at all on the state of the team, but more just a mere observation. The Sounders, out of everyone in the MLS, made the biggest splash during the season in acquiring Clint Dempsey and others. The Sounders, out of everyone in the MLS, saw the least immediate return.
There are hundreds of riffs on the theory, "if it isn't broken, then don't fix it." My favorite happens to stem from "Wag the Dog", and to a certain extent looking back, the Sounders were a bit guilty of this. Admittedly, no matter how great the team is, if Clint Dempsey goes from possibly coming to the MLS to the reality of coming to the MLS, the team has to take the chance, regardless. That makes this exercise a bit moot, but I'm still interested in comparing the contributions of the midseason acquisitions throughout the entire league.
Juan Agudelo, acquired by the New England Revolution on May 7
Agudelo missed a good chunk of the summer after suffering a knee injury in the waning minutes of an Open Cup match, but when he was in he was an asset.
Mike Magee, acquired by the Chicago Fire on May 25
Magee finished with 22 total goals on the year, but just his 15 for the Fire would've put him fourth in the MLS.
Robbie Rogers, acquired by the Los Angeles Galaxy on May 25
Rogers is here because he was involved in the much more lucrative transaction for the Fire.
Carlos Bocanegra, acquired by Chivas USA on July 1
Clint Dempsey, acquired by Sounders on Aug. 3
Excluding the Sounders game against FC Dallas on the day Dempsey landed at Sea-Tac, the face of American soccer played in nine of 14 possible games for the Sounders.
Adam Moffat, acquired by the Sounders on Sept. 13
Dempsey's contributions look a bit lacking compared to some of the other major midseason pickups in the league, but he was also the latest to join his squad. Agudelo had a full two months edge in a New England Uniform, and for Magee the MLS style learning curve was much less. He was already tearing it up for the Galaxy when the Fire acquired him.
The obvious argument for Dempsey in a Sounders uniform is more the impact that he will have and less the impact he didn't have this year. But with the Sounders season at a fever pitch the moment he arrived, it was a bit of a disappointment. Bringing the best player to don a national team uniform to CenturyLink was supposed to put the Sounders over the edge.
Besides, he wouldn't be the first player picked up in the midseason to struggle in the switch to MLS and excel the next year.
Dempsey's less than stellar 2013 numbers fit in quite nicely with a lot of the 2012 numbers from some major midseason acquisitions last season. Given a full season of meshing with the team and adapting to the MLS style of play and officiating, many of the major pickups from 2012 paid huge dividends in 2013. Of the goal scorers in the group, three were at the top of the statistical table by the end of the 2013 season, and Miller might have had more goals if he didn't have to share the ball with Diego Valeri so much.
I don't think anyone was doubting the ablilites of Dempsey, but it was frustrating to watch someone who you know is so good be such a minor blip on the season. A fully healthy Dempsey should be a force to reckon with next season, and should find himself competing with the other designated players as one of the best in the MLS.