Seattle Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer had a passionate message Wednesday for doubters of his Seattle Sounders. After a rough weekend, the skipper said his players have not given up on the fans and, despite comments on the internet, he didn’t feel like the fans had quit, either.
It’s been a week to forget for the Sounders. Between a last-second loss on the road to Los Angeles FC, Seattle defender Roman Torres exiting the pitch during warmups with a hamstring injury, a silent close to the transfer window and internet backlash over comments made by general manager Garth Lagerwey, it has been the sort of start to a week that might have Schmetzer wishing for a mulligan.
Schmetzer, however, was full steam ahead at the Sounders’ first training session of the week, saying he agreed with the club’s decision to not bring in a designated player-level signing this transfer window.
“As a coach, you always want to have more good players,” Schmetzer said. “When Jordan (Morris) went down, we were targeting transitional guys that can play wide, maybe as a 10, not an out-and-out forward. The options that were presented to us as a coaching staff weren’t a like-for-like forward. Based on that, I was in agreement where if we’re not getting (a striker), then I wasn’t okay with that, because it’s a bigger decision for our club.”
Schmetzer continued, going on an impassioned diatribe against those who doubted the dedication of his players or staff.
“I get a little irritated at times when people get fired up about this club not wanting to compete, or that they can’t compete, or what Garth said or didn’t say, or what people heard or didn’t hear,” Schmetzer said. “I need to tell everybody that we and the players on the field, haven’t quit on the fans. They haven’t quit. They busted their ass in LA. The fans who were there did what they could to make the atmosphere great. That relationship is still there. Those players haven’t quit on the fans, and I don’t think our fans have quit on us.
“We’re in a results-based business. If I don’t do my job, I am going to be fired. I get it. As long as I am here, you can bet your ass that any player who quits or is ‘woe is me’ or says ‘this is hard,’ they won’t be with this team for very long. We are going to continue to work and to push and do whatever it takes to win games. We are not afraid to compete against New York, LA, Atlanta—we aren’t afraid of that. We have been to two MLS Cup finals and our goal is to make another one. Would we like it to be at home? Yes. Have we pushed some results that haven’t gone our way? Of course. We are looking to fix that. It’s a little irritating that s— has happened. We’ve had some traumatic injuries. We’re working through that. Those guys are busting their ass, the coaching staff has been working their asses off trying to find solutions and we are going to push forward. I want to push forward on all this mess because, I have already told you, as long as I am here, this team is never going to quit. Simple as that.”
Schmetzer’s comments seem to largely stem from the blowback after Lagerwey told league podcast Extra Time Live that the “days of Seattle being the biggest spender in the league are probably behind us.”
While Lagerwey clarified his comments Wednesday, saying he meant the club would find new ways to evolve and stay as competitive as clubs with deep pockets like LAFC and Atlanta United enter the league. Still, the fan base reacted poorly to the way the message was delivered as the last-second loss dropped Seattle to a 1-4-1 record to start the year.
While Schmetzer’s mantra is familiar for the Sounders, the intensity of the statement belies the pressure the club is feeling after a rocky, injury-laden start to the season has disrupted early attempts at normalcy for the club and its fans.