Seattle's Sigi Schmid ... tangled up in all this.

Sorting out the Seattle Sounders; getting realistic about things


The Seattle Sounders are in a bad way right now, and not just because they lost to Portland on Sunday. Yes, that one stings like the dickens, a deeper bruise than others along this seven-game beating of a winless streak – but it must be seen in the broader context.

And reclaiming a better place along the continuum of “broader context” starts with getting realistic about things. Ground zero is acknowledging what you are. Right now.

In June of 2012, Seattle is a team perhaps not as deep as everyone thought; the obvious defensive struggles are providing plenty of evidence. The Sounders have allowed almost two goals a game during the seven-game winless spell (13 conceded).

Sounders boss Sigi Schmid laid it out for everyone to hear Sunday evening. If you ask me, this is the only way back, confronting problems, making hard choices … not talking about being unlucky or convincing yourself that you’re a “quality team” that just “made some mistakes” and such. Good teams win games. Period.

Instead, you put it down for everyone, and you hope they start picking it up.

I don’t feel good about these series of games. The team in the locker room has to decide what team is the Seattle Sounders. Are they the Seattle Sounders that played the first seven games of the season or the Sounders that have played the last eight games of the season?

“They are at the crossroads where they have to make a decision which team they are.”

Some of the crossroads effect is finding your place on the map; finding which crossroad, exactly, you’ve arrived upon. For instance, quit looking at what players were. It’s tricky, I know, but what are they right now? We’re past 2009, you know?

source: Getty ImagesSchmid didn’t make the right call in personnel Sunday, going with Jeff Parke and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado rather than Patrick Ianni (pictured) at center back, a costly choice.

Either way, the defense needs additional cover right now. Whatever roles injuries, new goalkeepers and offseason personnel choices played in a deteriorating defensive scene – and there are discussion points aplenty there, admittedly – those cows are out of the barn. It’s just time to list your assets and work with what you have.

So Seattle may need a tweaked approach, and that might mean players accepting adjusted roles or even different personnel for an altered system.

And then there’s Fredy Montero, who isn’t producing goals but is producing poor choices, like rushed free kicks at important times and rash moments of petulant behavior. Is there going to be accountability?

There’s plenty of time (the Sounders will reach the halfway pole this week) but frustration is becoming more apparent. Schmid and the team leaders have to get on top of this thing, right now – before that frustration becomes even more toxic.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

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I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.