The Seattle Sounders are in free-fall, having lost four straight for the first time since joining MLS, and they’ve gone from having the league’s best record two weeks ago to squeaking into the playoffs Sunday thanks to other teams’ losses. I connected Saturday with Seattle majority owner Joe Roth, the Hollywood studio chief who in the past year has spearheaded the commitment of more than $30 million to Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins.
Roth is not a happy man.
“If you told me three weeks ago when we were favored to win the Supporters' Shield that I’d be home rooting for Colorado and the Galaxy to win their home games this weekend so we could back into the playoffs, I would have said you were crazy,” Roth texted me Saturday afternoon after Seattle’s 2-0 loss to FC Dallas and a few hours before Colorado and L.A. did exactly that.
Playing through a shoulder injury, Dempsey has yet to provide a goal or an assist in eight games with Seattle (561 minutes). Meanwhile, Martins and Eddie Johnson missed Saturday’s game with injuries.
“We scored 47 points in the middle 22 games of the season and four points in the other 11 games,” Roth told me. “We needed to win only one of our last seven games to make the playoffs, and we have blown the first six. No excuses. Every team has injuries and national team call-ups. We haven’t got it done. I hope for the fans’ sake and the players’ we turn it around. And soon!”
Due to its huge following and big financial investment in players this season, Seattle probably has more public pressure to win than any other team in MLS. When I asked Roth if coach Sigi Schmid’s job is in danger, Roth was direct in his reply.
“This guy is the winningest coach in MLS history,” he wrote back. “I don’t think he’s at fault here.” Seattle faces Los Angeles in the regular-season finale Sunday night with the chance to finish anywhere from first place to fifth place in the Western Conference.