Tuesday, October 12, 2010

SOUNDERS: Team turnaround a testament to Sigi Schimd

A crisis point.

The Sounders had just been absolutely pulverized 4-0 by the Los Angeles Galaxy, to the point of Sounders management giving season ticket holders a full refund.

It seemed as though the team had suddenly gotten passive and whenever a team seems to be lazy, you look at the head coach.

To Continue...

Whenever a team is losing, fans love to put the blame on someone. So when the Sounders looked like they were slacking, many fans (including me) pointed the finger at Sigi Schimd. He himself kind of seems passive and doesn't lose composure often. But perhaps he was to passive?

I felt like he should be fired. HE was the slacker. HE was the lazy guy. HE was the problem.

Boy, did I eat my words.

It turns out he wasn't the problem at all. There really was no specific problem (some suggest Ljungberg).

Sigi wasn't the problem.

In a profession were there is a lot of pressure on you, Sigi Schimd shines under pressure. He just let's the pressure float over his head, instead focusing on the important stuff within the team itself. People forgot (including myself) he won the 2008 MLS cup with the Columbus Crew, so he knows how to win. He has kept the ship sailing in the right direction all along, avoiding obstacles such as media freak outs (cough, cough, Jim Mora), player mutiny, and dramatic roster changes.

Because of his steadiness, the Sounders have done a full turnaround from the early part of the season. They are hitting on all cylinders, have won 4 straight MLS matches in a row, and in the process clinching a playoff spot for the second year in a row. They enter the playoffs as probably the hottest team in the league, which is very important because each round is decided by only two games.

The Rave Green have picked up international talents Blaise Nkufo and Álvaro Fernández, who have been instrumental in the playoff push.

However, in spite of all this success, Sigi remains the same. Some coaches change dramatically on if they win or lose (cough, cough again, Jim Mora), but Schimd stands firm in himself. He always stands on the sideline with his scarf on, just coaching and doing his thing, letting the players play.

If a coach never backs down from his philosophy, that tells me a lot about him. It means he's not insecure about himself and has respect from the players. It means he has a greater goal in mind, a plan for the future. Mike Holmgren was like that. Tony Dungy, John Wooden, Don James, and even Chuck Knox were confident in themselves. Not in a cocky way, but they wouldn't be persuaded by some 24 year old hot-shot player who thought he owned the world.

So as the Sounders make their way into the playoffs and selling out Quest field a couple more times, just know the team won't play any different from what it's been doing. They will still play a high energy game with the midfielders trying to get the ball out to the wing in hopes of a potential cross to the middle. They will still go out and get the crowd pumped with extra effort plays from Osvaldo Alonso and Nathan Sturgis. They will stay the same.

Just like their coach.

Reach Nathan Parsons at nathanparsons98@yahoo.com