The Seattle Sounders steep in their bitter start for the next two weeks. All the training and regen will be haunted by Geiger’s whistle, Sunny’s somersault, Coelho’s gangly strike, and Geiger’s other whistle. Excuse me while I vomit in my mouth a little.
Let’s flashback to moments after Seattle was doomed to their first 0-3 start ever. A dimming electric range of an evening: the orange just wisping out of the Olympics across the Sound, the city bright, I jostled out amongst the throng of Sounders supporters and muttered to my wife, “Now we have 2 weeks to choke on this start.”
Sports psychology is an interest of mine (being a majority Philly fan, it’s a survival necessity). I think of how the Sounders, as individuals, as people, are going to respond to these losses. Sigi has a tall order and he knows it. He needs to keep his men invested in the process, even with crappy results.
Sure professional sports are a “results-based business” but results only come through the process. You need the positive affirmation a good result brings to reinforce the process that gets you there. Sigi alluded to this saying, “At some point, you need those results for your confidence and your belief in what you’re doing.”
Sigi also spoke of a creeping feeling of uselessness and apathy that can set in during a slump: “You can’t keep hitting yourself against a wall because eventually you start bleeding and you won’t accomplish anything… you’ve got to stay strong in our endeavor and our belief with each other.”
I don’t even care about formation switches or signing new players, the Sounders’ chief concern right now is the players’ attitudes. Sigi needs to man-manage the hell out of this club.
Clint Dempsey is not a vocal leader. He’ll tell you that. But he is a professional and he understands the spotlight and the ups and downs of an athlete’s life. He seems to have a healthy grasp on this psychologically, and that’s great for him.
But Jordan Morris is a young man. A young man with lots of hype. He isn’t Yedlin coming out of nowhere and free to just ball. Morris is under a lot of pressure, locally, nationally, and hell even some from Germany. You can’t tell me he doesn’t carry that. Nurturing J-Mo’s attitude is key to his development, and the Sounders need to be sure he rises to the pressure more like LeBron than Ryan Leaf. Dempsey, despite what he thinks, needs to be involved here. His input could be priceless.
I am also worried about Nelson Valdez and Andreas Ivanschitz. Both men are hustling hard for Seattle, and yet are late-career soccer mercenaries.
Valdez awes me, a decorated, veteran player, who’s earned stripes in all theatres of world football, hustling hard for the Rave Green. But when is he gonna get sick of the non-calls, the bruised calves, all the effort for little recognition or even fairness? Ivanschitz has clearly had enough of MLS officiating. He has two yellows for dissent in just 3 games. Here’s a vet who can’t keep his head.
What if these two major cogs of our attack check out? Do they look towards Oba’s departure and see a sinking ship or do they keep their booking on the SS rebuild?
Don’t get me wrong, I do not doubt the effort and commitment of any of these men, but the human animal is a mixed bag of emotions. Doubt creeps in. We don’t really know what exactly made Valdez, Ivanschitz, and to a lesser extent, J-Mo, sign with the Sounders.
During the next two weeks, the scrimmages, the regen, the study, Sigi needs to hit his message hard: “stay strong in our endeavor and our belief with each other.”