Schmid calls out Ljungberg after another home loss
SEATTLE — The story remained the same for Sounders FC. Another home loss, another goal-less effort and another disappointed team in the locker room. Despite posting a monstrous advantage 18-3 in shots, Seattle couldn't find the net at home and yielded a 1-0 result to the San Jose Earthquakes.
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While the Seattle players may say they should have gotten at least a draw—a point conceded by San Jose coach Frank Yallop—the score sheet showed another goose egg for Seattle at Qwest Field.
And the frustration finally boiled over for head coach Sigi Schmid, who was particularly disappointed with Freddie Ljungberg's actions as the game wound down.
"I think we all need to look inside ourselves and ask ourselves why it takes 10-15 minutes before we start playing,” Schmid said. “We have to look at ourselves as to why we spend game time to argue insistently with referees.”
Later, Schmid confirmed that his comments were directed towards Ljungberg, who once again showed displeasure with no-calls against him.
"If throwing his hands up motivates him and makes him work harder, it's not an issue,” Schmid said. “But if arguing with the referee takes away from time that you could be helping the team, then it is an issue. As a leader, he's got that responsibility on his shoulders to help guide the team.”
Goalkeeper Kasey Keller repeated Schmid's calls for accountability after the match.
“This is not something for me to criticize or to make judgments . . . but at some stage there has to be some accountability," said Keller.
The Sounders' attacking woes, especially at home, have become a real problem. Despite the strongest home support in MLS, the Sounders continue to disappoint their faithful. On Saturday, 35,953 fans went home unhappy after couldn't answer San Jose’s early goal.
“We allowed them to get into a rhythm of play and establish themselves and gain their confidence early,” Schmid said. “Their goal came out of that sequence as well. At the end of the day, we woke up and probably had more of the game but having more of the game doesn't mean crap. At the end of the day, we lost 1-0."
With a 2-3-1 record at home this season, Qwest Field hasn't turned into the fortress Schmid envisioned. In the past five home games, Seattle have scored only twice, with one of those being a miraculous stoppage-time winner from Mike Fucito.
In franchise history, the Sounders are averaging only 1.19 goals per game at home. When stacked up against all other MLS teams at home this year, that figure ranks dead last. In 2010, the league average for goals per game at home is 1.44, putting Seattle considerably under the bar. The all-time figure in MLS is 1.70.
In an effort to explain the home struggles despite the record crowds, Schmid pointed out the poor record of the Columbus Crew when they opened the league’s first soccer-specific stadium. Opponents were eager to play in Crew Stadium, which led to better play from the visitors and initially poor results from Columbus.
In the visitors’ locker room, Yallop theorized that the Seattle players may get nervous trying to please the eager fans.
"It is a tough crowd and you maybe get a little anxious to play in front of 35,000 people,” Yallop said. “The Sounders will do well at home and score goals. The atmosphere is terrific and the players played well today. They did everything but the final touch."
After a confidence-building 1-0 win at New York a week ago, Seattle’s players had hoped for better today. Instead, Schmid must spend another week answering the same questions about Swiss striker Blaise Nkufo’s arrival, which can't some soon enough.
Schmid didn't have an injury update on Jhon Kennedy Hurtado. The defensive stalwart went down late in the game with what might have been a muscular injury in his leg. After spending the rest of the match on the ground, he was able to walk off the field under his own power.