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Lessons, character building no longer enough for MLS

Apr 10, 2013, 11:20 AM EST

There is a lot of talk about character and learning lessons today coming out of the Seattle Sounders camp. Fair enough.

Lessons were surely learned. Character was surely built. Battles were surely battled.

But the bottom line is unchanged for the Sounders after last night’s 1-1 draw with Santos in Torreon, Mexico. And not everyone is OK with this ongoing marching parade of lessons and character building. (Nor should they be.)

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He has a point. There are plenty of soccer fans out there, many who support a Liga MX team, who would bury their superiority complex over MLS if the LA Galaxy, the Sounders, Real Salt Lake and all their league brethren could get into a few more CONCACAF Champions League finals, at very least. A place in the FIFA Club World Cup would go a long ways to establishing greater credibility, too.

Here’s what Sounders manager Sigi Schmid said about Wednesday’s match in Torreon, the latest exercise in MLS character-building and lesson-learning.

Obviously we learned from last year, and that’s an important thing. You have to continue to learn and improve. We put ourselves in a position to advance, which was also very good. I think the character that we showed tonight and that we played with, being down at halftime 1-0 was no different than our situation was against Tigres. We knew we needed to score just two goals to advance, not three, and the guys battled. We put ourselves in a position where we could have advanced and won it. Our finishing needed to be better, but I’m proud of our quality and the effort we put in tonight.”

  1. socamr - Apr 10, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    Perhaps it’s time for MLS as a league to learn, and raise the salary cap. Seattle’s problems had a lot to do with having to start Zach Scott as a center back in the two-game series. He’s no one’s idea of a quality starting CB, but salary limitations made him the next player on the depth chart after Ianni’s injury and Hurtado’s run of poor play. That plus MLS teams just starting league play when the CCL tournament gets going again puts MLS at a decided disadvantage.

    Here’s a thought: why not push the CCL spring schedule back a few weeks? Currently the two-leg final is scheduled to conclude *before* the end of LigaMX. In Europe, the Champions League final is played the week *after* most domestic leagues conclude. Concacaf could play both legs of the final (if it insists on a two-leg final) after the conclusion of Liga MX, thus pushing back the final by 3 weeks. That would put the QF about 4 weeks into the MLS season, allowing for at least some early season rhythm to develop among MLS teams. If MLS really cared about winning the CCL, Garber should be lobbying Concacaf to make a change in the schedule.

    • thekingofnorway - Apr 10, 2013 at 6:40 PM

      A tangential thought here, but I’d love to see a complete do-over on CCL scheduling. Start group play in the Spring and have the knockout/finals in the Fall. As it stands, the 6-to-9 month lag in MLS qualifying between earning a berth and starting play really hurts promoting the tournament. SKC got a berth from their Open Cup win in August 2012 but won’t start CCL group play until August 2013 for a tournament that runs into 2014. That’s nutty.

  2. drewvt6 - Apr 10, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    Just posted this in the post “One Theory On MLS Failures in CCL” and I think it is an important question to the simple solution everyone has of throwing more money in the hole.
    =====================================================

    Let’s say for the sake of argument, they double the salary cap in MLS. Without removing the foreigner restrictions for rosters, do we really see a roster depth improvement? As in, are there enough Americans/green-card holders/Canadians to add quality to positions 12-20 on 20 MLS rosters? Is a doubled salary cap enough to get the Edu’s, Goodson’s and Parkhursts back to MLS? What about the Mexican based contingent: Beasely, Torres, Garza, Corona, Castillo, Orozco, Gomez, etc?

    I don’t know that you build that quality of depth simply by throwing more money at it. I think it takes time and in increase in quality at all levels of the game in the US and Canada.

  3. dfstell - Apr 10, 2013 at 12:34 PM

    Oh….and add in that CCL is not the top priority for most Mexican clubs. Sure, they want to be in the Club World Cup (maybe?), but they’d rather play/excel in Copa Libertadores than screw around with a bunch of clubs from MLS who haven’t proven they can compete and clubs from middling leagues from the rest of the region.

    • charliefiction83 - Apr 10, 2013 at 12:46 PM

      Depends on the club. Monterrey rested several of its starters this past weekend in league play so they’d be fresh for tonight’s match against LA and Santos has played their starters in all the knockout rounds. Yes, Tigres played a few reserves in their series against Seattle, but I don’t think you could say that it’s not a priority for all Liga MX Clubs. Many of them see good marketing and brand value in Club World Cup participation.

  4. Dave Clark - Apr 10, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    Wasn’t the lesson learned?

    Seattle’s first CCL cycle was embarrassing.
    Their second one they made it to the knockouts and got slapped down by Santos Laguna.
    Their third one they swept the group stage, made the knockouts, had historic victory over Tigres and were a single ineffective shot away from bouncing Santos Laguna out in the semis.

    If that is an unlearned lesson what does a learned one look like?

    • zoophagous - Apr 10, 2013 at 1:13 PM

      Exactly. Seattle improved each year in CCL. Let’s remember as an MLS franchise they have only been in business less than 5 years. They were one Zakuani wiff from going to the CCL finals.

    • Steve Davis - Apr 10, 2013 at 1:19 PM

      Yup. You woulda thought, eh?

  5. valiantdraws - Apr 10, 2013 at 1:12 PM

    Man, am I sick of Sigi’s stupidity. He always talks of “deserving” a win, lessons learned, etc. It’s bullshit. Results speak for themselves. Say what you will about John Spencer, but I loved his comments about Sigi’s whining back in Portland’s first MLS season.

    Frankly, I’m sick of all coaches that make excuses.

  6. charliej11 - Apr 10, 2013 at 4:35 PM

    One team was going to lose. Not sure how the Sounders get closer while losing.
    I guess they could have finished all the chances and actually won by 2 or 3, but it is Santos and the Sounders were right there.

  7. talgrath - Apr 10, 2013 at 5:59 PM

    I have a lot of respect for Alexi Lalas as a player, but as an analyst I find he’s generally a moron. MLS teams don’t have the cash or support that Liga MX teams have, yet. The Sounders got farther than ever in CCL, to the semi-finals and lost by a single goal and tied Santos Laguna away, the last time the Sounders faced Santos Laguna in the CCL they were trounced 6-1 in Mexico, if that doesn’t indicate improvement to Mr. Lalas then I think his expectation are far too high.

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