BY Seth Kolloen 07:05AM 05/27/2011

Kolloen: Sigi Schmid, what game are you watching?

It’s time for Sigi Schmid to stop pointing fingers and look in the mirror.

Sounders coach Sigi Schmid like blaming other folks for the Sounders' problems. / Victor Decolongon, Getty Images

Who’s 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 Wednesday’s 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. Schmid’s choice at forward, Mike Fucito, couldn’t finish. Schmid’s second-half subs Nate Jaqua and Roger Levesque didn’t 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, didn’t 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 we’ve seen that Fucito has the speed to get open, but can’t 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 here’s 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, that’s ludicrous. Montero can’t score when he’s 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 won’t finish them.

Note to Schmid: Montero gets paid to score, but you get paid to win. If Montero’s 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. Roth’s 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, that’s 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 we’ll 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 Schmid’s 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 doesn’t look like the guy to get the Sounders there.


YourThoughts

  • Hansville Pasta Boy

    As a season ticket holder in Section 112, I completely disagree.

    The problem, besides our obvious injuries, lie at the feet of Fredy Montero not Mike Fucito. Lets have Mike play as many minutes as Freddy already has and then compare who “can’t finish.” Freddy consistently gets run over or is out muscled by his opponents.If he was quicker he might be more effective-but he’s not. Fredy seems timid and will only score when he receives a perfect pass and is wide open. My nine year old grandson could do the same and he’s not paid $636,000 per year like Freddy. See: http://www.sounderatheart.com/2011/5/7/2159746/seattle-sounders-salaries-released-fredy-montero-gets-big-raise-kasey 

    In contrast, Fucito ($40,000/yr.) seems to have the instincts to get open in the box and fight for position. I believe Fucito has started only one match; let’s give him the same chance to demonstrate his skills as Fredy before you jump to any more inaccurate and premature conclusions. Meanwhile I can still dream Didier Drogba is available and Adrian actually opens his wallet to lure him to Seattle….

  • Hansville Pasta Boy

    As a season ticket holder in Section 112, I completely disagree.

    The problem, besides our obvious injuries, lie at the feet of Fredy Montero not Mike Fucito. Lets have Mike play as many minutes as Freddy already has and then compare who “can’t finish.” Freddy consistently gets run over or is out muscled by his opponents.If he was quicker he might be more effective-but he’s not. Fredy seems timid and will only score when he receives a perfect pass and is wide open. My nine year old grandson could do the same and he’s not paid $636,000 per year like Freddy. See: http://www.sounderatheart.com/2011/5/7/2159746/seattle-sounders-salaries-released-fredy-montero-gets-big-raise-kasey 

    In contrast, Fucito ($40,000/yr.) seems to have the instincts to get open in the box and fight for position. I believe Fucito has started only one match; let’s give him the same chance to demonstrate his skills as Fredy before you jump to any more inaccurate and premature conclusions. Meanwhile I can still dream Didier Drogba is available and Adrian actually opens his wallet to lure him to Seattle….

  • PTthePT

    I always believe that a good coach can get the best out of his players.  I do not believe Sigi is doing that with the Sounders.  He did with Columbus and the Galaxy, obviously, but he can’t seem to do it here.  Montero does at times look lazy and careless with his passing.  However, if you remember the last half of last season he was stupendous, setting the standard for heart and effort for the whole team.  So why so different?  The wrist, the team, the coach?  With Friberg, Fernandez and Rosales, they should be flying around that field, creating good chances.  Why aren’t they?  They’re professionals, they should all be giving 100% every game.  Bottom line: boy, do we miss Zakuani.  Quit making excuses, Sigi, and coach with what you have.

  • PTthePT

    I always believe that a good coach can get the best out of his players.  I do not believe Sigi is doing that with the Sounders.  He did with Columbus and the Galaxy, obviously, but he can’t seem to do it here.  Montero does at times look lazy and careless with his passing.  However, if you remember the last half of last season he was stupendous, setting the standard for heart and effort for the whole team.  So why so different?  The wrist, the team, the coach?  With Friberg, Fernandez and Rosales, they should be flying around that field, creating good chances.  Why aren’t they?  They’re professionals, they should all be giving 100% every game.  Bottom line: boy, do we miss Zakuani.  Quit making excuses, Sigi, and coach with what you have.

  • ivan

    No point in blaming Montero. No point in blaming Fucito. And no point in blaming Sigi. This team lacks what it always has lacked — a big (not Mike, not Fredy), fast (not Jaqua, not Nkufo) classic center forward, one who can run the pitch, blow past defenders, and finish. Even if only on loan, they need Kenwyne Jones, from Stoke City.

  • ivan

    No point in blaming Montero. No point in blaming Fucito. And no point in blaming Sigi. This team lacks what it always has lacked — a big (not Mike, not Fredy), fast (not Jaqua, not Nkufo) classic center forward, one who can run the pitch, blow past defenders, and finish. Even if only on loan, they need Kenwyne Jones, from Stoke City.

  • Fray_gomez

    Just found this article. Sometimes freedom of speech has it’s drawbacks. Fucito had a monster game vs. Dallas. Period. No other player would have even gotten to the ball to have a chance of getting a shot off, let alone 4-5. 2 of Hartman’s saves were spectacular.
    5 months later, the Sounders were 12-3-3 when Fucito started. I agree on 1 point. Sigi. He starts Ochoa and Leg 1 results in a 0-3 loss. Then he starts Fucito, and they win (AGAIN) 2-0.
    No coincidence. Fucito is a heart-attack, who creates space for all other Sounders, and stretches the defense. Montero has benefitted from his pairing with Fucito immensely.
    Sigi doesn’t know how to exploit Fucito’s strengths. The author of this article has limited perspective on the game overall. When Fucito goes elsewhere, he will blossom. There are plenty of coaches who know how to integrate this dynamo into their attack.

  • Fray_gomez

    Just found this article. Sometimes freedom of speech has it’s drawbacks. Fucito had a monster game vs. Dallas. Period. No other player would have even gotten to the ball to have a chance of getting a shot off, let alone 4-5. 2 of Hartman’s saves were spectacular.
    5 months later, the Sounders were 12-3-3 when Fucito started. I agree on 1 point. Sigi. He starts Ochoa and Leg 1 results in a 0-3 loss. Then he starts Fucito, and they win (AGAIN) 2-0.
    No coincidence. Fucito is a heart-attack, who creates space for all other Sounders, and stretches the defense. Montero has benefitted from his pairing with Fucito immensely.
    Sigi doesn’t know how to exploit Fucito’s strengths. The author of this article has limited perspective on the game overall. When Fucito goes elsewhere, he will blossom. There are plenty of coaches who know how to integrate this dynamo into their attack.