It is sometimes said — especially in basketball, maybe — that certain teams are built for regular-season success, but not so much for the playoffs.
Given three straight encouraging Sounders regular seasons followed by three straight disappointing playoff exits, I asked general manager Adrian Hanauer if such a thing applies to soccer.
We’ve talked about that. I think that there is a kernel of that. I think it’s actually in soccer teams are built for certain moments, and certain teams are not. The part where I can’t say we’ve really faltered is there have been some big moments where we’ve come through. So, an Open Cup final was a big moment, and we came through. Needing a result in Central America to qualify for the quarterfinals was a big moment, and we somehow came through. Some of the comebacks that have given us three points or one point that have kept us climbing, you know those were big moments. So I’m not quite ready to say this team can’t win at big times, because I think we can. But if we can add again that 5 of 10 percent more leadership and ability in those important moments – certainly I’d trade out a couple of regular-season wins, if that’s what it were to take. But sometimes those are compromises.
… We’re a pretty young team. You take Kasey out, and we’re a pretty young team. Maybe adding a couple of older veterans gives you more of that leadership. But maybe during the regular season I think statistically older players are going to be injured a little bit more or be able to play a few less games. So, is that a good compromise? It’s the balance that we have to continue to find, right?, because if we make that tradeoff and don’t get the points during the regular season, then maybe we lose the playoff home-field advantage, which theoretically should (help) and then we’re back here says if we just would have gotten a few more points during the regular season we’d have had the home field advantage and qualified.
We absolutely need to get better, but we just somehow managed to have the worst game of our season in Salt Lake City at the worst possible moment. It’s hard for me to think about retooling the whole roster or making some dramatic change because of that one night, when so many good things happened during the rest of the year.