As the clock wound down on Tuesday's U.S. Open Cup match, it was not hard to see that the situation inside the stadium was combustible. The Seattle Sounders were down to seven men and had just seen their sometimes-captain Clint Dempsey thrown out of the game after ripping up the referee's logbook. Fans were throwing things on the field, Sigi Schmid was avoided the center of the pitch and instead walked down to the corner flag. Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer went as far as calling it a "tinderbox."
It was also the culmination of a rather embarrassing week for an organization that holds itself to a pretty high standard, coming as it did after Sergio Mota thrust S2 into the national media spotlight with his two-footed kickout and just hours after S2 head coach Ezra Hendrickson went all Lou Piniella on referees after his team's loss in the Open Cup against Real Salt Lake.
The situation called for some kind of big-picture statement, and that's what Hanauer delivered on Thursday. Here's his opening statement in full:
"I just wanted to address Tuesday evening. I know there's been a lot of chatter about it on the interweb(z).
"We're an extremely proud organization. Right below our logo, there are three words that say passion, courage and community. We believe that we embody those three words and that everything we do is a positive reflection on them.
"Tuesday evening, the passion piece maybe went a little bit overboard and was maybe directed in the wrong ways. That goes for players, coaches, staff, fans.
"But it all starts with me. I run this organization and, as the one leading it, maybe I need to look in the mirror and see if there's something that I need to do to maybe think about things different and get the best out of the people in the organization.
"The Open Cup is a tournament we take very seriously. No one can argue that the Sounders have possibly put the Open Cup back on the map for U.S. Soccer. So the passion comes out. We wanted to win that game Tuesday night. We wanted (S2) to win in Salt Lake City. I think that the passion may have been misappropriated -- from, again, players, coaches, fans and staff -- and was a representation of that (passion).
"Now, we need to regroup. We've had lots of internal conversations. We will do whatever we need to collect information on fan misconduct and dole out appropriate punishments if those are necessary. We'll deal with all of the rest internally.
"But I thought it was important to acknowledge that it wasn't our proudest moment as the Sounders organization and we're going to do better. We know that people are looking to the Sounders as the bellwether franchise in North America and we always need to be at the top of our game."
Asked about the possibility of the organization doling out internal punishments that would be separate from anything from U.S. Soccer or MLS, Hanauer suggested it was possible but wouldn't go any further than that: "We'll do all of that internally. Maybe, maybe not, but we'll do with that behind closed doors."
While Hanauer probably wasn't happy with the quality of the officiating, he steadfastly refused to blame it for the Sounders' behavior.
"We need to control what we can control," he said. "That referee was assigned by PRO, but that's something we can't deal with. We have to do what we can to be a great organization."