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Full transcript of Roth-Hanauer conference call on Sounders retaining coach Sigi Schmid

Post by Don Ruiz / The News Tribune on Nov. 14, 2013 at 5:06 pm with No Comments »
November 14, 2013 5:11 pm

Here is the full transcript of the conference call today in which Sounders majority owner Joe Roth and minority owner/GM Adrian Hanauer discussed the club’s decision to bring back head coach Sigi Schmid for a sixth season:

Joe Roth – Sounders FC Majority Owner
(On bringing Sigi Schmid back as head coach…)
“I sat down with Adrian and Sigi on Tuesday here in Los Angeles for two hours and we kind of talked through everything. Anybody who has a business that’s kicking [butt] October 1st and out of business November 1st, if they’re not worried about it they’re remiss themselves. I was horrified by the late season slide. It felt like it started with the 1-1 tie in the Red Bulls game, a game we should have one. Then it just seemed like we were on our heels the rest of the way. As a sports fan and a fanatic Sounders fan and an owner and a businessman, I was terrified of that slide, particularly because the previous 22 games we had gotten 47 points. If we stunk, we stunk, but this was totally unexpected. I think the job that Adrian and I have in front of us is to evaluate every single piece of the team—coach, coaches, medical staff, players, ball boys, you name it. I just wanted to hear from Sigi and at the same time have him hear what my expectations of the team are.”

(On the reasons for keeping Schmid and identifying any changes in the organization…) “I think Sigi is a great coach. I’ve been down here in L.A. and I watched him coach UCLA for a long time and at the Galaxy and at Columbus, and we kind of went out of our way to bring him to Seattle. The five years he’s been here with an expansion team he’s made the playoffs all five years. We just haven’t had a slide like that and it was so shocking and discouraging that we all needed to talk about it. Nobody has won more MLS games than Sigi—he’s a great coach. I just wanted to get more understanding about it and make sure we can do the steps, whatever they are—whether they’re in training or in the locker room or whatever—to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

(On if the public statement about keeping Schmid weakens his status with the team going forward…) “No, I don’t think it weakens him with the team. We’re having this press conference and putting this statement out to say that we are completely behind him and expect to be in the kind of form we were in midseason all season next year. So no, I don’t think it weakens him. There’s a little organization here called the Los Angeles Dodgers that, I believe, gave Walt Alston and Tommy Lasorda about 30 or 40 one-year contracts and, frankly, they seemed to work out just fine. I happen to think that when you look at the players in the NBA or the NFL or baseball playing out the last year of their free agent contracts, they hit more home runs or score more points or something. I think it’s good. I don’t think it weakens him at all. It’s not a trial, it’s nothing. He’s too esteemed a coach to be on trial. We always just need to have the same fire in our belly that the fans have. If we can muster up the same passion that the fan base has, we’d be champions of the world. It’s what we’re requiring going forward.”

(On coming to a decision to keep Schmid this week…) “I think it was right that [Hanauer] was saying that we won’t make an emotional decision based on a disappointing last month of the season […] What I was looking for was a two-hour face-to-face with the coach and voice my opinions and hear his responses to make sure we were on the same page. I felt like once we got past that there was no point in waiting longer. The decision was to keep him on with full support. To me, once you’ve made that decision, every day you wait allows people to be skeptical or cynical or uncertain.”

(On not making an emotional decision about the coaching status…) “Sigi is the leader of the team. He’s the leader of the players. Whatever team we put on the field next season, they will be the responsibility of Sigi. I wanted to make sure that I understood how that was going to go and what his opinion was and what it was of the team that he had. It was not an emotional meeting whatsoever. It was a two-hour very frank conversation about the disaster of winning one of our last 10 games.”

(On if any possible coaching replacements were discussed…) “This was not about possible replacements at all. John Wooden died a few years ago, but other than that I can’t think of anyone.”

(On why Schmid was not on the conference call…) “We’re here to support him. He doesn’t have to defend himself. We’re here to support him.”

(On if they have now developed criteria for evaluating coaching…) “I think it has, actually. Just speaking for myself […] To me, it’s two things. It’s results and character. We expect to get the results, we expect the team to have the character that we want it to, and if the team has the character we want it to, we’ll get the results.”

(On Clint Dempsey’s future with the club…) “We love Clint Dempsey. We’re super happy that Clint Dempsey is with us. We look forward to the transition into the next three years of his contract and think he will end up being an MLS superstar.”

(On Schmid’s coaching performance this season…) “Up until October 1st, we were the heads on favorites to win the Supporter’s Shield. There was nobody playing better soccer than us during those middle 22 games of the season. We scored 47 points during that time. For much of the year, we were playing certainly well enough to be highest scoring team in the league in terms of points. Then, we just fell apart. It’s uncharacteristic of the Sounders of the five years, it’s certainly uncharacteristic of Sigi’s career, and frankly, it’s uncharacteristic of almost any sports team I’ve ever seen. I think the Philadelphia Phillies one year were a few games out and had to lose the last eight games not to make the playoffs and managed to do that. When things go bad, they go bad.”

(On the passion of Seattle fans…) “Yesterday morning down in Los Angeles, my wife was at a park and there were two children at the park—her and another couple. My 20-month-old son was wearing his Sounders shirt—as he always does here in L.A.—and the other couple remarked that he had a Sounders shirt on and talked about it a lot. My wife went over and said, ‘Are you from Seattle?’ And they said, ‘Yes, but we had to get out of town after the team lost to Portland. We couldn’t stay in Seattle.’ She said, ‘Really?’ The wife said, ‘My husband would have broken up the house.’ That’s the kind of passion that our fans have and I expect every person under our employ to feel the same way.”

(On how injuries affected how the team was coached…) “I don’t have a conclusion as to how the team was coached. It was an unfortunate combination of getting on a bad streak, having a lot of injuries, having national team call-ups. Obviously, if we hadn’t had the injuries we had it would have been better. Obviously, if we hadn’t had [Clint] Dempsey and Eddie Johnson and [Brad] Evans called up on two separate occasions to play for the national team, I think we certainly would have had better chemistry on the field. To me, the teams that have chemistry on the field are the teams that win.”

Adrian Hanauer – Sounders FC Owner/General Manager
(On the meeting with Joe Roth and Sigi Schmid…)
“I think in that meeting we heard that Sigi has the same commitment to the tough decisions ahead, the kind of soccer we want to play and the mentality that we want our team to represent for our brand and our fans.”

(On identifying any changes that need to be made…) “We’re busy at work for next year and as we make decisions you’ll become aware of them.”

(On if the rest of the coaching staff will be back…) “Yes, we’re operating under that assumption, but the entire staff is assessed at the end of every year—well, quite frankly, throughout the year and at the end of every year, just like everyone else in the organization. You never know when changes are coming, but our belief is that we have a very good staff and a great cohesive unit, and that it’s full steam ahead.”

(On the reports that they are actively shopping Eddie Johnson…) “This is the time of year when transactions happen in our league. Every general manager is on the phone with every other general manager talking about just about every player on their team. This year is no different. There are going to be a hundred of these rumors in the next few months. Some of them will end up being true and some of them won’t end up being true, but I’m not going to comment on specific player transactions.”

(On Schmid’s contract situation and if they exercised an option…) “He’s under contract for this year, for 2014.”

(On how the midseason acquisitions factored into the end of year evaluations…) “Not enormously. Joe characterized it perfectly—we want the right character and the right results and the right character will lead to those results. Look, there are certain realities to every team. Players come and go from national team duty and you have injuries and you have players come in midseason. You have some strengths and some weaknesses, but ultimately this decision was about the core character type and results.”

(On if they believe this season was an aberration in terms of Schmid’s coaching performance…) “I’m not sure. You characterized it as Sigi’s performance. I’m not sure I would say that Sigi’s performance was any different than the first four years. There are a lot of factors that go into character and results. Again, that was the key—that everyone was on the same page and character and results were going to be the focus.”

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