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Dominance, media relations, and Seattle’s history with Los Angeles

Nov 10, 2012, 10:42 AM EDT

Seattle Sounders v Real Salt Lake - Western Conference Semifinals Getty Images

Until this season, the Seattle Sounders’ history with the LA Galaxy had not been a good one. Most memorably, there’s the demoralizing Western Conference semifinal two years ago when the Galaxy scored early in Seattle (Edson Buddle 38′) and didn’t allow a goal until the 176th minute of their 3-1 win. There’s also the 5-1-2 record the Galaxy’s accumulated against Seattle from 2009 to 2011. Before the 2012 season, it looked like there was some kind of hoodoo Bruce Arena’d developed over Sigi Schmid.

That changed this season. With Seattle’s 2-0 win in early May, you could argue LA was still working through their early-season troubles. But the 4-0 drubbing the Sounders handed them in August? Though LA played makeshift back line (with David Junior Lopes and Bryan Gaul at fullback), that’s no excuse for one of the most embarrassing league results of the Arena era.

Even though LA beat Seattle in the season finale, 1-0, 2012′s results should give the Sounders plenty of confidence going into Sunday’s first leg of the Western Conference final. They shouldn’t have to do things like … resort to the clichéd sophistry of spinning media mishaps into motivation.

Alas, as we see in this Seattle Times’ report, coach Schmid is making a media department gaff into much more than it could ever possibly be:

But their opponent, the defending MLS Cup champion Los Angeles Galaxy, is doing its part to add to Seattle’s drive, starting with a faux pas by its communications department.

“L.A. thought they were playing Salt Lake,” coach Sigi Schmid said after Thursday’s playoff series win against RSL. “They put out a news release and said they were playing Salt Lake, so we hate to disappoint them. That’s motivation enough for us right now.”

Schmid often uses sarcasm and irony when addressing the press, usually to break up the monotony of the daily check-ins us content-hungry vultures demand of MLS coaches. His comments may be more playful than serious.

But let’s take them as they’re conveyed and assume Schmid either sees a slight or wants to make this into one. It’s no more than many coaches across many sports do regularly: Manipulate anything (and sometimes, everything) to try to get more out of their players.

The practice insults players’ intelligence. While I’m sure a handful of MLSers can be convinced into believing in a conspiratorial, malevolent LA communications department, it’s far more likely that this was an honest mistake – a team not doing a find and replace on a release drafted before the Thursday game started. Players are smart enough to figure this out.

What impression of players’ intelligence do you have if you’re trying to portray some evil LA P.R. managers taking matters into their own hands, giving the opposition a jibe. Or perhaps the scenario doesn’t involve such rogue behavior. Maybe the theory has the order coming Bruce Arena himself? It’s all a bit kooky.

That’s not to say there aren’t media matters that can ruffle feathers. Witness this week’s comment from Mike Magee:

“(The Sounders) have judged themselves based on their successes and failures against us,” he told LAGalaxy.com. “This is their MLS Cup.”

Who gives that to the media? Somebody that isn’t worried about firing up the opposition, a casual disregard that often (ironically) gets the opposition fired up.

Just another example of the subtle games people play this time of year.

  1. footballer4ever - Nov 10, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    In the end, this type of manipulative media only helps to move the masses to sell more tickets, but i doubt it contributes to a better play on the pitch. Anything productive to get the buzz going in selling tickets and getting people to watch games on tv is a move all other sports leagues use, some more successful than others.

  2. ndnut - Nov 10, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    However, as an athlete I know that it is more fun to play in an energized, full stadium than one that doesn’t have that same vibe. Your theory shows how “bulletin board material” really works.

  3. footballer4ever - Nov 10, 2012 at 7:18 PM

    As a fan, it is also more fun to enjoyable to watch or be part of an energized full stadium than one that doesn’t have that same vibe. That’s a given.

    Does it actually do more or not for footballers? Emotionally, Possibly. Tactically where it changes the course of a game, i doubt it.

    One thing is certain, these playoff are carrying a buzz other past years have failed which can only be good for the league and the sport.

  4. danielofthedale - Nov 11, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    You know whats going to make the difference in this? It’s not LA leaving RSL in the press release or Mike Magee’s comment. It’s whether or no Mauro Rosales will play and play effectively. Beyond that the rest is just window dressing.

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