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I'm out of patience: A letter to Sigi Schmid

Mike Russell Foto

Coach Schmid,

It was great to see you back on the practice fields in Tukwila as you and Seattle Sounders FC prepared for the 2016 season (starting March 6 at 4 p.m. against Sporting Kansas City). I know there were doubts among a vocal segment of the fanbase. The Dire Days with their 1-9-0 record in the summer, plus the disappointing end in the MLS Cup Playoffs created a lot of angst. FC Dallas got the lucky bounces against Seattle, and (maybe worse) the Portland Timbers got the lucky bounces to win the MLS Cup.

Now, there are those that want you gone already. A seventh-straight playoff failure is their main argument. Your contract is good through this season after you signed a three-year deal in 2014. President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey and controlling owner Adrian Hanauer made the decision to honor that contract despite any uproar.

There is logic to that decision.

It wasn't Sigi that got a DUI and a suspension, that was star winger Marco Pappa. It was Captain America Clint Dempsey that ripped a referee's notebook to shreds, not Sigi. It was perennial MVP candidate Obafemi Martins, Panamanian defender Roman Torres, Sounders Captain Brad Evans, All Star Osvaldo Alonso and so many more that suffered injuries at the same time. When they were healthy the best players on the team disappeared to their National Teams for the 2015 Gold Cup. You were so shorthanded that the backups to the backups became starters for nearly two months.

Here's the thing – Seattle has a history of watching Hall of Fame level coaches do wonderfully in the regular season and merely passable in the playoffs. This history causes a lack of patience. We Seattleites, we Puget Sounders, are too used to failure.

Lou Piniella, Seattle Mariners '93-02

Four seasons in Playoffs

15-19 record in Playoffs

George Karl, Seattle Supersonics '91-98

Seven seasons in Playoffs

40-40 record in Playoffs

Mike Holmgren, Seattle Seahawks '99-08

Six seasons in Playoffs

4-6 record in Playoffs

Sigi Schmid, Seattle Sounders '09-15+

Seven Seasons in Playoffs

7-8-4 record in Playoffs

Maybe it isn't fair that you are burdened with our lack of patience. But you are so burdened.

When we march into CenturyLink to face Sporting Kansas City on March 6, or watch TV on the 12th as the club travels to Salt Lake, or march again to face Vancouver on the 19th, we know you will do well. We know that every regular season the Sounders will be something between pretty good to awesome.

SB Nation MLS Preview

Dempsey, Evans, Torres, Alonso, three-time Defender of the Year Chad Marshall are back. Late last year Lagerwey brought you the Austrian Beckham, Andreas Ivanschitz, Paraguayan striker Nelson Haedo Valdez, taco aficionado/midfielder Erik Friberg and Torres. This offseason left back Joevin Jones joined from the Chicago Fire. Mercer Island native and US National Team scorer Jordan Morris inked with the Sounders as well. That's enough talent to win a title.

Still, because we're Seattle sports fans with seven years as MLS-era Sounders fans, we expect that in November the playoff run will end. December and the MLS Cup will come after that. We expect to watch from home.

No one wants to feel this way. The vocal element of the fanbase that wants a coaching change gets louder every year. At some point it will be a majority.

Watching Portland celebrate last December hurt. That lowly soccer village with just two – three (it takes getting used to) – major trophies in their history won an MLS Cup before Seattle? My soul aches when my Portlander friends remind me about their parade.

Sounders fans need a parade too. Maybe that parade comes because Dempsey, Alonso, and Torres are healthy, while Morris continues his ascent as the next great American soccer player. Ideally that parade for winning the MLS Cup comes because Sigi Schmid is the leader this team needs.

It's time. This December your coaching, the players' talent and a little bit of luck must combine so that on a cold winter day we march from Occidental Park to CenturyLink Field celebrating the only major MLS trophy you have yet to win in Seattle.

The pattern of strong regular season and playoff failure needs to end – now. Or the Sounders need to find a new path to success.

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