Given how ubiquitous analytics are in soccer these days, it’s sometimes easy to forget that the Seattle Sounders took a rather big chance when owner Adrian Hanauer gave Dave Tenney the budget to start gathering data during the earliest days of MLS. Perhaps even more remarkably, a relatively “old-school” coach like Sigi Schmid was open-minded enough to accept Tenney’s data.
Granted, at the time, Schmid was mostly interested in figuring out which players were putting in effort and which were taking it easy. But Tenney’s one-man analytics/fitness operation eventually grew into one of the more sophisticated departments of its kind in MLS and became a bit of an industry leader in the soccer world. Tenney eventually moved on to the NBA, where he carries the title of Director of High Performance with the Orlando Magic but the groundwork he laid in Seattle has continued to bear fruit.
It was Tenney, after all, who hired Ravi Ramineni and Sean Muldoon who currently head up the Sounders’ analytics and fitness operations.
On Wednesday, I caught up with Tenney who like the rest of the sports world is trying to balance keeping his players fit and engaged without overloading them with information while they’re on an indefinite break from playing games. He shared some of his thoughts on where analytics are going and some of the things he’s learned since making the move to the NBA.