I read all the comments. Normally this is every couple of hours. The rare exception are gamethreads when I’m in the stadium and when I take a trip to a wilderness so wild there is no access to internet. Today, I spent Father’s Day with my dad. He had an important Costco trip last Sunday, so we drove to Mt. Rainier/Tahoma, talked a lot, and enjoyed the majesty of nature - sorry, the true majesty of nature.
What’s this have to do with Sounders soccer? Two things — my dad was my first coach and it meant I read all the comments at once. I learned a lot from drinking comments out of a firehose.
That 1-1 draw that feels like a loss? There’s some anger out there. There’s people searching for answers, and just about any answer you can come up with is appearing. Let me sum up so you don’t have to re-read the multi-hundred comment post:
- Morris lacks motivation and everything in his life has been too easy.
- Dempsey is a prima donna past his prime.
- The league figured out Lodeiro and he isn’t actually that good.
- Torres lost his mental focus.
- Schmetzer is a bad coach.
- Lagerwey failed to sign any players.
- Hanauer & Roth are cheap.
- Keller is dour.
- Costigan is also dour.
- Evans is fragile-y.
- Jeremiah and I disagree on the proper number of roster spots to fill.
Here’s the thing: All of these can be a tiny bit right and still be a lot wrong. Some of them have nothing to do with the play on the field. Others lack supporting evidence.
But most of them come about because we Seattle Sounders fans hold this club to incredibly high standards. Trophies are the expectation. Making the MLS Cup Playoffs is a bare minimum. Winning seasons are normality.
This club we love has never finished lower than 4th in the West. It has yet to finish below 7th in the Supporters’ Shield race. It has always hosted at least one home playoff game. From 2009 to the present the team has six trophies. That’s more than any other team. LA and TFC have five. Seattle has as many trophies as Vancouver, San Jose, Real Salt Lake, Portland, D.C., Columbus, Colorado, Philadelphia, Orlando, New York City, New England, Minnesota, Houston, Chivas USA, Chicago and Atlanta combined from 2009 to the present.
Our standards are high.
We are not used to failure and a third straight season of substantial down performances is trying our patience. It’s the halfway point after winning MLS Cup, and nothing about the Sounders indicates that they are meeting the lofty expectations they earned from both their MLS and pre-MLS performances.
This was a team set-up to compete for trophies. Right now the only one that feels likely is ... well, I don’t know that a trophy is likely; maybe the Heritage Cup?
The attack is bad.
It is. It’s 17th by goals scored by game. The leading scorer is a dude who was supposed to be a bench player. The left back is tied for the assist lead. He hasn’t had an assist since April 29th.
The Defense is bad.
It is. It’s 14th by goals against per game. They’ve given up the second most goals on set-pieces this year. Frei has faced the 7th most shots in the league, and he’s saving only 65.8% of those.
They are awful on the road.
Five points in nine played is bad. Yes, there are worse teams - a few of them, even. But that’s not the point. Seattle has a history of being better than average in road games. Right now, they are in the bottom third.
The stars are underperforming.
Whether DP, TAM player, or HGP, none of the players with the highest expectations are coming close to those high expectations, except Ozzie. Ozzie’s been fine.
There are eleventy billion open roster spots and the window doesn’t open for like two-and-a-half weeks which is like 15 years in fan-years.
There are no simple answers, because everything is broken. Individual players are error prone, injury prone and/or lack mental focus. Motivation, tactics and substitutions are all off. The roster is not right and maybe a powerful transfer window cannot right what is wrong.
Our standard here in Sounders-ville is simple — be Seattle Sounders FC, the greatest non-dynasty that MLS has ever seen. And then become a dynasty.
We do not measure this teams’ successes and failures versus other teams that are worse right now. The measuring stick is simple - ourselves. Right now we aren’t ourselves.
But we are still Sounders. You and I control one thing — our attitude. We can either accept the small joys while demanding improvement or we can be the angry old neighbor that scared you when you were a child. We can either mope, or support. We can be meek, or we can be heard.
I know where I stand. I have my voice. I will be heard. These are my Sounders. They will hear me.