Sounders Insider reader/commenter ElmoCatt attended the soccer-themed event last night at Town Hall Seattle and filed this report (with a few editing liberties to conform to TNT style):
Here are some notes for the Soccer Insider crowd – I attended the soccer presentation by author Simon Kuper along with Arlo White and Sigi in Seattle on Tuesday night, referenced a couple of blog items prior.
Characters in the game today
KUPER: Because of the amount of money and corporate involvement in soccer now, players have to be more bland and less controversial, rarely have much of interest to say in interviews.
SIGI: Agreed that players regard teams as their employer now, although Rosales and Roger are the team characters. Sigi then made a joke about trying to trade Roger to Portland, but not having a lot of luck with that.
Development of Soccer in U.S.
KUPER: Soccer in U.S. has two main demographics: Hispanics in general and middle/upper class. Midwest and the South lag well behind in interest.
SIGI: On which is better for U.S. soccer – team academies or college game: Academy offers better technical development, but college offers better social and psychological development for the players.
Role of coaches in modern soccer
SIGI: Game is changing for head coaches, becoming more of an overseer of team’s other coaches (GK , fitness, assistants, etc) as in football, as opposed to hands-on with the players.
Soccernomics – basically “Moneyball” for soccer – use of statistics
KUPER: Role of statistical analysis is growing in soccer, but it is harder than other sports given no stoppages in play and players interacting all at once, rather than a batter and a pitcher like in baseball. Pass completion in the final third is a key stat for modern teams. (Sigi enthusiastically agreed with this.) Kuper believed Arsene Wenger is one of the best at this – selling players at high point, just as skills are declining based on data analysis.
SIGI: Sounders doing “soccernomics” more and more, and are ahead of other MLS teams. Believed that Sounders have been more successful that other new MLS teams since team did alot of data collection prior to the draft (compared to other new teams) using a North Carolina based sports data company. He pointed to the many players still on Sounders roster three years later, compared to roster turnover on Philly, Portland and Vancouver, as evidence that team’s homework paid off.
Future of U.S. national team
SIGI: Believes that Klinsmann needs more time to shape team, but concerned that Klinsmann has no solid tactical assistant such as Joachim Löw when he was German coach. Related that he told Klinsmann his opinion of several MLS players that are competing for spots (that Sigi was not impressed with) but that Klinnsman wanted to give those players a few more looks – Sigi did not mention names but included one who did not do a good job in the match Tuesday night v. Ecuador based on his comments.
Future of Sounders
SIGI: Team will be replacing several players after this season (no names or positions mentioned, however). Team is already looking at other new signings for next season. Once new players are identified, team does a good job connecting them (and their family) to community, making them feel at home, taking care of relocation and familiarization issues, etc. Sounders do a much better job at this than other MLS clubs which gives club an edge when it comes to signing players.
It was a very interesting conversation moderated by Arlo White, who told a couple of funny stories, as well as kept the dialog flowing. Hopefully there are some good insights here for everyone to consider.
There are, E. Thanks much.