Tukwila – When the boss is unhappy, employees tend to take notice.
That’s true this week with Seattle Sounders FC, where coach Sigi Schmid seems to have gotten his players’ attention with comments that majority owner Joe Roth is unhappy enough with the club’s 5-8-4 start that no one should consider his job safe.
“We all have high standards for ourselves, so it was more, ‘Hey, we have to do better,’ ” Schmid said Wednesday. “That was agreed upon by everybody. Joe is obviously on board with that, as is (general manager Adrian Hanauer), as is (CEO) Tod Leiweke, as are myself and all the players. So it’s not like there was a memo that was sent out; it’s not like there was a big meeting that was held or anything like that. Everybody knew that we’ve got to perform.”
However the message was delivered and the players took note, veteran defender Tyrone Marshall said.
“When you’re the provider for your family and job security is on the line, it definitely sends a message,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that it has come to that point, because this could have been avoided by going out and taking care of business from the get-go. It’s one of those things that you wish you could have it over again. But at the end of the day you just have to get out and do the work.”
The front office also has gotten everyone’s attention in a way more meaningful than words: roster moves.
On Wednesday, there were multiple reports out of South America that the Sounders are on the verge of signing Alvaro Fernandez, a 24-year-old midfielder who played with the Uruguay nation team that finished fourth in the 2010 World Cup.
In response, the Sounders said in a short press release: “The club is continuing to look at all options to improve the squad during the transfer window. We are aware there are several reports circulating, but we have no comment at this time. If a move is made, then we will make an announcement.”
The reports came one day after the club announced that designated player Freddie Ljungberg had been given permission to try to strike a deal with another club.
“It’s unfortunate for Freddie,” Marshall said. “He’s a great guy. He’s the one that they’re using as an example, saying it doesn’t matter who you are. For us – all the players – we have to do all the work and make sure we take care of business.”
The Sounders believe they have begun doing that.
Since Ljungberg’s last start on July 4, Schmid has gone with a younger lineup. In the last MLS game against D.C. United, seven players were 25 or younger. At the same time, the team has shifted to a more attacking style on both ends.
“We think we are a better team when we step up the pressure defensively,” Schmid said after his team continued training for its game against Colorado on Sunday. “It’s sometimes difficult, especially for a young team, to play at one tempo defensively and then try to play at another tempo offensively. By stepping up the pressure defensively, it allows us to get into a little bit of a faster game, which suits us, and it also allows us to win the ball back in earlier parts of the field.”
Schmid stressed that this lineup isn’t any sort of youth movement for the future. The mandate is to win now, and even the veteran Sounders are buying in.
“The past is the past, and the last couple of games we’ve had good results,” midfielder Pat Noonan said. “We’ve been working hard and fighting for our wins. And I think once you start getting wins, then you start getting confidence, and then maybe the goals start coming more and the breaks start going your way. … There’s no question we can turn it around. And who knows? Maybe three, four, five weeks from now we’re talking about how bad things were and how good things can be.”
Colorado at Seattle, 7:30 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel, 97.3-FM