Indicating no rush to make a decision, the Seattle Sounders will take the coming days and weeks to assess to the direction of the franchise after another frustrating end to the season.
Among the topics of conversation is the status of head coach Sigi Schmid, the winningest coach in MLS history, who has led the Sounders since Day 1 of their MLS existence.
“There are a lot of big decisions that ownership has to make over this offseason,” Sounders GM and part owner Adrian Hanauer told reporters during a conference call on Monday. “We will take our time, be methodical, be rational and hopefully not make emotional decisions based on the pain and frustration of losing the playoff series like we did to Portland.”
While that is a similar process the team has undertaken after each of the Sounders’ five MLS seasons, there was a sense that the weight of those meetings will be a little heavier.
“To me, Sigi is a winner and to me, he’s done a fantastic job over the last five years,” Hanauer said. “That said, he wants to be somewhere he’s fully appreciated and supported. I want a coach in place who’s fully appreciated and supported. We need to take this time to get there. Once we get there, it’s full-steam ahead.”
That Schmid could potentially lose his job despite compiling a regular-season record (74-44-44) that is second only to the LA Galaxy’s Bruce Arena during that time speaks to the unique pressures facing the Sounders. Hanauer even suggested there’s a level of pressure on Seattle unlike any other MLS team.
But there was also an acknowledgement that this year did not go according to plan, as the Sounders had their worst-ever start (0-3-2) and finish (0-4-3), while losing more games than they ever had before (12).
“Clearly this was a very frustrating season for all of us, probably the most frustrating of the five years [Schmid has] been with the club, maybe the most frustrating in the 12 years I’ve been with the Sounders,” said Hanauer, who owned the club during its USL days. “There are obviously lots of different factors that play into those sorts of frustrations.”
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Hanauer was also quick to accept a level of blame for that frustration, admitting that his inability to finalize the roster until the season had started may have been a significant contributing factor.
“We win together and succeed together and struggle and fail together,” he said. “Everybody is always looking for a hide or a scalp and the head coach makes the big bucks so the fingers are usually pointed at him. But I’m the general manager and ultimately it’s my organization, and I don’t see that many fingers pointed at me and to be honest, that kind of frustrates me.
“It will be a conversation about the entirety of the soccer organization and making sure we all believe together we know what it’s going to take to get it that little bit better than we’ve been of late and help us get over the hump and finally get to a championship.”