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MLS Seattle Sounders: A Quick Endurance Test and a Bad Call

Bill HareCorrespondent IApril 27, 2010

SEATTLE - APRIL 17:  Head coach Sigi Schmid of the Seattle Sounders FC looks on during the game against the Kansas City Wizards on April 17, 2010 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Some people, based on appearance, cannot easily be pinpointed. Their appearances do not provide clues to their professions.

This cannot be said about Sigi Schmid, veteran MLS coaching legend who currently patrols the sidelines for the Seattle Sounders FC. Take a good look at Schmid and you see appearance mirroring profession.

Schmid has enough of that gray hair that coaches get from all those agonizing and tense moments when games are in a deciding stage, as well as the shock and disappointment when things do not go according to plan despite the most extensive preparation.

Then there are those lines of care, developed from years on the firing line. From exposing oneself to public opinion and the give and take of coaching in the MLS, a position sustained by making solid and correct choices.

In short, Schmid looks like a Major League Soccer coach. He has seen it all and last week there was an occasion to try any coach’s patience.

It was one of those moments that puts gray hairs on one’s head and lines of care on one’s face. Action ended last Thursday in Frisco, Texas with the scoreboard showing a 2-2 deadlock between host Dallas and visiting Seattle.

On some occasions a tie would be a favorable result with a valuable point earned in a road appearance, but this was a different circumstance.

ESPN commentators echoed what was observable from viewing the tape.

A Dallas player falls and two Seattle players stand nearby, but that is it. They are standing and not engaging in contact.

All the same, a foul was called and the ensuing penalty kick found its mark, resulting in a deadlock.

Sigi Schmid looked like the experienced veteran in the way he handled things. 

The first thing he did was instruct his players to back away. He recognized that they would be understandably upset over seeing a well-earned victory denied with a last moment penalty goal on a phantom foul that the camera’s eye did not reveal.

The coach would handle matters himself.

He did so in his own coolly professional way. Schmid shook hands with the officials, his face an iron mask, revealing no emotion.

Schmid then dropped his comment, letting the officials know that “a bad call” had been made.

It was a disappointing way to end a match that the Sounders gave every evidence of winning, but emotions needed to be wiped away.

From there it was on to Toronto and a Sunday match.

In the NBA, what makes coaches and players cringe is the mention of back-to-back road endurance tests. Schedules where you play one game one evening, fly on to the next city, and engage another team the following night.

Just as teams are at a disadvantage under those circumstances, the same applies in the MLS. The Sounders played an evening contest in Dallas on Thursday and were back in action Sunday afternoon in Toronto.

The first half ended in a scoreless deadlock as Schmid rested his young speedsters Fredy Montero and Steve Zakuani. Another tie would not be an unfavorable prospect considering the tiring schedule quirk, but it was not to be and one wonders about the attrition factor.

Sounders commentator Arlo White referred to a breakdown and lack of attention as Toronto scored its first of two goals.

Attention diminishes in the wake of fatigue.

It would be understandable if the Sounders were feeling fatigued and suffering from diminished concentration in the wake of two matches within a brief three day interval.

A veteran coach like Schmid would be the first to say that one cannot make excuses because of the schedule maker and that a team must be up for all contests, but it would be better if the Sounders and other teams did not have to run this type of gauntlet.

Road matches are an uphill challenge. The schedule therefore should be structured to avoid the type of "two games in three days" that the Sounders were forced to endure.

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