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May 9, 2010 at 1:09 PM

Sounders FC to pay back its season-ticket holders with credit for next year after L.A. debacle

I’ll be updating quotes here as I type them up…


(Opening statement) I’ve been on the phone with Joe Roth and Tod Leiweke this morning, and Gary Wright, and some of the people that I run the business with. And that performance last night wasn’t good enough. The effort wasn’t good enough. The execution wasn’t good enough. The heart wasn’t good enough. The passion wasn’t good enough. The only thing that was good enough was our fans. So we decided that we’re going to give our fans their money back for that game. Our season ticket holders. The people who were with us from the beginning, and will be with us in the future. We’re in this for the long haul. We need them to be in it for the long haul. That wasn’t Sounders soccer. And it was quite frankly embarrassing, humiliating, and they don’t deserve that. It’ll come in the form of credit against next year’s season tickets because we want people in for the long haul. It just wasn’t good enough. It’s not a precedent. We don’t plan on giving people money back every time we have a bad game. But as the owners of the club, we reserve the right to do whatever we think we need to do to treat our fans the way they’ve treated us.

(Steve Zakuani mentioned this to reporters, how did it become reality?) Things like this have happened in some degree in Europe before. I read Zak’s comments. I spent a long restless night and picked up the phone in the morning and got no opposition at all, frankly. 100 percent support for the idea.

(So you came up with the idea?) I guess so.

(For season-ticket holders only right, not single-game ticket holders? And if there’s an 18-game package next year, people essentially pay for 17?) Yes. Now I’m sure that there’s some mechanical piece that I’m not thinking about right now and somebody’s going to call and say ‘What if I did this and did that?’ But basically we want to compensate our season-ticket holders for having to watch that yesterday.

(Anything specific that the fans did? Chanting in the 80th minute? Applauding the team leaving the pitch?) They were amazing. And they have been for 20-some-odd home games. They’ve done their part and our team didn’t yesterday. It’s just not going to fly. Obviously that’s one thing we can do, the other thing we can do is shake up the team. Do whatever we need to do to get the guys on the field who have the heart and the desire and the passion and will bleed for the Seattle Sounders club, because that’s all that is acceptable. Possession in the midfield is great and looking good is fantastic. When you look at the results you see the Seattle Sounders in last place in the West this morning. And that’s just not frickin’ acceptable. Not while I’m involved. I hate to be the ‘if heads have to roll’ kind of guy, but we’re just not going to remain in last place. Not if I’m involved.

(Getting rid of players is the easier task, are there players available to bring in?) Short term – and we do this already – but short term we can get more aggressive in our conversations when teams call us and say ‘Is this guy available?’ or ‘Are you interested in that guy?’ Maybe losing a guy with a little more talent and gaining a guy with a little more passion and heart is going to be worth the trade. I know that our fans care abour heart and passion and results, and again possession is certainly part of the game. And I’m a big fan of the beautiful, but the beautiful game ain’t so beautiful for the home team if they’re losing. Especially if they’re losing like that. I guess the rest of the answer is the July transfer window feels like it’s forever from now, but I guess a better way of putting it is the June World Cup break and then the subsequent July transfer window is to some degree around the corner. And that is an opportunity for us to make some changes. If it was easy everyone would be in first place. There are going to be first-place teams and there are going to be last-place teams. This organization just doesn’t intend on being a last-place team. And the fact that it’s not easy can not be an obstacle. We need to be smarter, work harder, be more creative, scrap, claw, figure out what’s going to get us that edge.

(Does the responsibility of last night far mostly on the players?) No. No. It’s management, coaches, players, support staff. We got a couple handfuls of injured players, it’d be easy for me to lay some blame on the medical staff. There’s plenty of blame to go around. Me included. Ultimately it’s my team. If I’m going to lay any blame it’s on myself for not being perhaps more aggressive earlier. That said, I’m not one that hits the panic button because we’re not miles away. Even given the performance yesterday, in the first half we were the better team. Offside gets called on a goal, (it’s) called back (when he) wasn’t in an offside position. If the referee makes the right call there we’re up 1-0. Kasey, who’s obviously manned up and willing to take responsibility for the goal that they score. It’s a different game if we go into halftime up 1-0. But it didn’t. The offside did get called. The mistake was made on the goal. And then we weren’t good enough in the second half. The proof is in the pudding. The standings don’t lie. They are what they are. Turns out if we’re in the East we might in, I don’t know, second place or tied for third. But we’re not. We’re in the West. It is what it is.


(On team’s decision to refund fans) Obviously I think it’s a fair tribute to our fans. As I said to the team today, the fans support throughout the game and the way they remained and supported us after the game was phenomenal. Something that for me was very emotional. It’s something that doesn’t happen anywhere else. I’ve been in Los Angeles and coached there where if you would’ve lost a game like that, even playing with the best intentions or losing with a tighter score, that’s not the reception you would’ve gotten. You would’ve been booed off the field. And you would’ve had to dodge obstacles as you left the field. But our fans were in full support and it’s something that we appreciate. I think the organization has made all the right marketing decisions and all the right moves, and they feel this is what’s needed to show our fans that we’re appreciative of what they do, week in and week out.

(Being in last place now, what’s the day after reflection of yesterday) It’s been tough. The bad news is we’re in last place, the good news is we’re one point out of a playoff position and if we were in the East we’d be a couple points out of second. But reality is we’re in last place and for us, we have higher standards than that. The real question is, ‘Is the quality here?’ Is the quality of players here? If we’re fully healthy, I think ‘Yeah, the quality is here.’ But it doesn’t matter, every team deals with injuries. You deal with obstacles and the guys that step on the field have to do the business. Last night, we didn’t do the business in the critical parts of the field.

(Do the players know about the move yet and is this a message to them?) It’s certainly something that when they read about it, each player should understand that that’s how management feels about their effort. We talked about our effort this morning before we came out onto the training field, before we played this reserve game. So they know how I feel about it. Everybody’s got to be prepared to walk into it and give everything they have every time they step on the field for the full 95 minutes or whatever it takes. It’s something that we’ve always done and have to continue to do to keep forward.

(What was the most disappointing thing you saw from your team yesterday?) I said to the team from 18 to 18, our play wasn’t that bad. But I think in both penalty boxes, offensively and defensively, the Galaxy dominated us. That’s where games are won or lost, in those duels. That’s where we have to become better. I think when you at, you look at statistics or whatever, and you look at the game and watch the game and say, ‘Did we possess the ball? Did we complete passes? Did we move the ball up the field?’ I think we did all those things. And really up until the Galaxy was up 2-0 or 3-0 then the game flow went for them as well because you’re confident. But at the end of the day, you win or lose games in the 18-yard box, if it’s our or theirs, and that’s where they dominated. That’s where they were more resolute. That’s where they were more intense. That’s where they were feistier animals than we were. And that’s an aspect of our game that has to come now for us to win the games we want to win.

(Getting help with injuries, Noonan? Alonso’s status?) Noonan played 30 minutes today in the reserve game. The reserve game was easy because we told him, ‘Don’t do anything that’s going to aggravate it.’ He said he felt very good for the first 20 and then he was just careful in the last 10. Hopefully he’ll respond well and progress from there. Jaqua should be able to start entering training next week as a neutral player and start to knock the ball around that way, so that’s a positive step. Obviously Fucito is out now. But hopefully we’re making progress in that regard.

(Next week for Jaqua means Tuesday?) Yeah, Tuesday.

(And Alonso?) It’s not as bad as we thought at first, but it’s still something until we see how it reacts over the next couple days. It’s not the same injury that he had last year in Colorado, it’s different. Different part of his quad. But he really wasn’t very swollen today. He was walking without a limp and those are all positive signs. But until you get in here and start treating it and he starts doing stuff, it’s a 1-2 weeker maybe. So we have to see is it one or is it two?


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