Whos the best passer on the Sounders? Sigi Schmid.
When will the Sounders’ head coach take some responsibility for the team’s mediocrity, instead of sloughing blame onto his players?
During Wednesdays demoralizing pinball of a game at Qwest Field, the main reason for the Sounders failure to score seemed obvious to we season ticket holders in Section 119. Schmids choice at forward, Mike Fucito, couldnt finish. Schmids second-half subs Nate Jaqua and Roger Levesque didnt have the skill or speed to penetrate Dallas defense.
Meanwhile, star Fredy Montero was bracketed by Dallas defenders and, though he ranged from sideline to sideline, didnt have room to get the ball.
But then I woke up Thursday to read Schmid praising Fucito and scolding Montero. Were we even in the same stadium?
I was certainly pleased with the effort of Fucito,” Schmid said. “I thought he played very well.”
Sure, Fucito played well…for Fucito. This is two games in a row where weve seen that Fucito has the speed to get open, but cant finish. Sound familiar, U.S. soccer fans?
In the 64th minute Wednesday, a Mauro Rosales run drew a Dallas defender away from Fucito, who received an Osvaldo Alonso pass. Fucito was alone at the top of the penalty area, primed to turn, shoot and score–but he nearly fell down attempting his first touch.
Fucito recovered to get a shot off, but his bobble gave Dallas goalie Kevin Hartman time to get set. Hartman was able to leap and bat the shot over the crossbar. Several other Fucito shots were close to going in; but as we all know close only counts in horseshoes and Ecuadorean elections.
Now heres Schmid on Montero: He needs to score. End of story. He needs to score….That’s what you get paid to do. It’s a difficult task, but that’s the task at hand.
Sorry, thats ludicrous. Montero cant score when hes overwhelmed by defenders. Wanna know why Fucito got so many more chances (finishing with a team-high five shots) than Montero? Because Dallas knows Fucito wont finish them.
Note to Schmid: Montero gets paid to score, but you get paid to win. If Monteros not doing his job, neither are you.
We fans deserve better. As Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl pointed out last week, the Sounders’ average attendance of 36,306 would rank ninth in the English Premier League, sixth in Spain’s top league, fourth in Italy’s and second in France’s.
Sounders owner Joe Roth has said he thinks the Sounders should play at the level our attendance indicates. Roths vision for the Sounders? As he put it in 2007: A team that can get on the field in any country in the world and play competitively.
If Schmid is going to put Fucito, Roger Levesque and Nate Jaqua on the field at the same time, thats not going to happen.
Those three are good American players and put forth maximum effort. They represent the Sounders well. But they don’t have the skill level to compete internationally.
When Schmid has gotten players that do–Freddie Ljungberg, Blaise Nkufo and Alvaro Fernandez, all of whom played in World Cups — he has gotten their worst soccer. Ljungberg and Nkufo asked out of Seattle, and Fernandez has started only eight of the Sounders’ 13 games.
The result is that the Sounders flopped miserably in their one true international competition, the CONCACAF Champions League. In group play, the Sounders lost five of six games. Real Salt Lake (average attendance: 16,672) made the finals of that competition.
Schmid’s talent for passing blame flashed itself again after the draw against Portland. He cited the Timbers’ rough play and the rainy weather for the Sounders’ loss. Timbers coach John Spencer had a funny–and accurate–retort:
“It seems to me they had 50 excuses before the game written down as to why they never beat us three or four nil at home,” Spencer said, adding, “the next time we go up there well take plenty of towels for them so we can dry off the field before the game. Maybe take plenty of tissue paper so they can dry their eyes after the game.”
Through two-plus years of Schmids leadership, the Sounders have a plus-15 goal differential in MLS play. In other words, they have been mediocre. Schmid has proven his style can be successful in American competitions, since the Sounders have won two U.S. Open Cups.
But if the dream is to play with the Real Madrids and Barcelonas of the world, Schmid doesnt look like the guy to get the Sounders there.