After a frustrating 1-0 loss at home to the vastly improved San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders FC Coach Sigi Schmid showed creative aptitude in constructing a movie analogy.
Schmid saw the loss as a case of playing with motivation through a large part of a match but losing concentration over the short haul with the result being a loss.
“You close your eyes for part of a film and you lose its entire thread,” Schmid said.
He zeroed in on the fact that the Sounders looked flat, listless, and lacked crispness as well as concentration early in the match, which saw the team lose twice in a row at the Xbox pitch of Qwest Field before the home faithful for the only time in the team’s history.
“We played poorly in the first 10 minutes,” Schmid said, “and then we rebounded. The fact we rebounded did not enable us to win and that’s what counts.”
In addition to allowing the visitors from Northern California to score in the 11th minute on the game’s only score with a Chris Wondolowski left-footer, there was other evidence Schmid cited of poor concentration in other phases of play.
One point he made was the tendency of his players to spend too much time contesting calls. “The time you spend arguing with officials is time off the clock that should be devoted to scoring goals.” He expanded the point in noting that when glances are made toward officials the team also loses focus, making it more vulnerable to attack.
Another criticism regarding concentration related to the physical condition of midfielder Steve Zakuani, who was nursing a sore shoulder. “With his teammates knowing about his injury, why did one or more of them not come forward when he took the ball out? They should have thought about that and given him some help.”
“Right now things are not falling our way,” Schmid conceded. “Obviously the players are disgusted. We need to finish what we start.”
Schmid has made a profound point. It is one thing to put in time on the training field leading to a match. It can be a different proposition to have just the right mental focus to enhance victory chances.
A veteran soccer coach who became UCLA head mentor at the early age of 27, and later became a professional legend at Columbus Crew, Sigi Schmid knows how to win soccer matches.
He knows that the mental aspects of the game are every bit as important, and in some respects even more so, than the physical factor.
Expect plenty of words directed in the area of mental concentration during the brief period between now and Wednesday night’s friendly at home against highly regarded Boca Juniors of Buenos Aires.
After that expect more of the same leading to the resumption of MLS play next Saturday against Colorado.