Hi! Are you a season ticket holder? Did you vote?

18 October 2018

By Molly Wagner

“Hi! Are you a season ticket holder? Have you voted?”

Those are the words we said over and over, the questions asked on repeat over the last three matches. “Are you a season ticket holder?” Well, are you? We in Soundersland are presented with an anomaly in the world of pro sports. We can decide if our general manager, our president of soccer can keep his job. We can do this with a vote simply saying, “yes I have faith in your plan” or” no, I don’t like you or what you stand for”. We are spoiled. We are gifted with a front office that actually cares about the bond between the fans and the team. It can be tricky to get them to listen, but they do. More so than we know.

The other day at the home match against Houston, I was one of the people asking random fans “Hey! Are you a season ticket holder?” It was an interesting experience to say the least. We quickly looked for the signs of people who you could tell had been to a match or two. Clear bag? Older scarf? How much Sounders gear? Rain gear?  We got a lot of folks, putting their hand in our face saying “No, we’re not interested.” But we weren’t selling anything. “No, we don’t care.” This one in particular bothered me. It’s a Monday night game, it’s raining, you drove over an hour to get here based on that crest on your coat, and it’s a team that we should be able to beat going into the international break. You’re here; clearly you do care on some level. To hear how our fan base feels alienated based on their location is disturbing. Sounders have always come from far and wide. There are folks who came from a hell of a lot further away who voted. Why? Because it matters. Even on a deeper level we know it matters to us, to the front office, to the entire body of MLS. No, I am not saying that if we keep Garth the entirety of the league will care, but if we vote out our President of Soccer the entire league will wonder as they often do, “What’s going on in Seattle?”

It took me a long time to decide how to use the voice my season tickets gave me. I did my homework, studied speeches Garth has given over his current term, and I have looked at what he done previously with Real Salt Lake. His impact on the first team, the academy system, the game we hold so dear.  Over and over, listening to him speak. When Garth speaks, I suggest you grab a pen and take some notes. You are going to want to focus on every word he says and the tone in which he says it. He tends to speak on a level that is beyond the average fan’s knowledge. The last thing I listened to before I voted was a conversation of his from a podcast. He sounded like he’d been humbled by the whole experience, as if the fan base was able to look him in the eye and say “hey buddy, it’s time you listen to us.” I even went so far back to listen to the Business Meeting at the end of last season, for the fourth or fifth time.

Dissecting what he said, wondering if he has carried out his promises. Have those of us on the alliance council fulfilled our commitments to the fan base and to the season ticket holders; even those that say they don’t care? I used my vote and I am proud of the work I put in to gather my own conclusions of what Garth is attempting to do with this club.

I will take as many rain dampened evenings standing on the concourse getting hands in my face from men and women saying “I don’t care,” “I’m not interested,” or “We don’t want whatever you’re selling.” With a laugh at this and a smile on our faces, we kept asking folks if they would care to vote.  Even as men often stopped and stared at us; a certain creepy feeling sinking into our skin. We kept going and for every single creep, we had at least 5 people that were, in fact, excited about using their voice.

What alarmed me, however, were the season ticket holders that didn’t understand what was going on. This didn’t go unnoticed; how can we make this more visible? When we all walk around with mini computers in our pockets, yet we seem to be confused as to how best utilize this tool, this opportunity. Have we let the fanbase down? Have we let ourselves down? Have we let this process, which our owners have given us and have faith in, fail? This isn’t my first general manager vote, I like many others voted Adrian in. I wanted that one to be a success as much as I do this one. We owe it to ourselves, to take the two minutes out of our day to vote, to use our voice as a whole.

The first day of the vote on September 19, we hosted the Union. My family and I were walking to a bar near the stadium, fairly early before the match. I saw Garth walking out of the stadium and he looked nervous. Anxious. He has, in every conversation I’ve been a part of, looked uneasy; uncertain of what his future may hold. The body language of what he’s not saying is just as important to this as the actual words coming from his mouth. Have you met him? He is a decent human being with his heart in the right place. He didn’t have to come out of his way to make sure he shook my hand that day. Those are the little acts, that proves to me he really does care about this community. If you are willing to listen, really listen to him. He seems to be willing to do the same. It takes a certain level of thick skin to hold a position of such public access and public scrutiny.

If nothing else, do you remember what happened the last time we didn’t use our voices and our rights to vote? Yes, you do.

I’m going to ask one more time. “Hi! Are you a season ticket holder? Have you voted?” Well, have you?

2018 Annual Business Meeting – call for questions

18 October 2018

By Martin Buckley

Alliance Council are reaching out to the broad Seattle Sounders fan base to look for insightful questions that you want to be asked at the Annual Business Meeting.

Representatives from Club Ownership, Front Office, Playing Staff and Alliance Council will be present at the meeting.

Please submit your question below – we will review all of them.

  • Notes:
    Responses will be aggregated and sorted by the Alliance Council. The top representative questions from Alliance Members will be asked at the Annual Business Meeting in November 2018. You may be invited to ask your question in person.
    There is no limit to the number of questions that you submit, however we encourage new and timely questions for the panel.
    Panel members are TBD - but have previously included representatives from Ownership, the Front Office and the Alliance Council.

 

 

 

Meeting recap: The rationale and data behind the meeting with Adrian Hanauer and Garth Lagerwey

7 June 2018

By Martin Buckley

In late May Alliance Council requested a meeting with Adrian Hanauer and Garth Lagerwey to represent the angst from our fellow Alliance members and to question, listen, learn and be informed.

Our goal was to meet and build our own personal thoughts on where our beloved Sounders were headed – and whether Garth was the right person for the GM role. As an informed Alliance Council – we can then talk to our fellow fans and give as much detail as possible about our personal thoughts. Read the much more emotional and less data loaded recap here.

The data drove the questions that we asked of Adrian and Garth.

  • We are used to winning. Does the club believe in winning trophies of all kinds?
  • Goals win games. How does the club plan to bring firepower to score goals?
  • We hear stories about talent not getting signed or retained. Is there a systemic issue regarding player acquisition?
  • 2018 seems like we are cursed with injuries. Why is this?

From my view in the stadium – it’s been a horrible year as a fan. Injuries, losses, Open Cup woes. If you read Twitter, Facebook, Reddit or delve into the comments on Sounder At Heart – one could immerse oneself in the collective grief and misery of the fan base. Anecdotes however, do not make for a productive meeting – so I spent a good amount of time pulling stats from MLS and seeing for myself “how bad it really is”. Was the sky falling?

If you don’t like data – look away now.

A note on the data – I used the raw information from MLS – https://www.mlssoccer.com/stats – and a whole lot of Excel and PowerBI to make some observations. It’s not Opta, it’s not professional, there may be errors. Apologies if you find something. (If Opta want to send me a subscription – I’d be happy).

First off I took the range of 2014 – 2018 for data. 2014 was a standout year – for goals, points and bringing home some silver. The key metrics I captured included: goals, shots on goal, assists, game outcome, role of scorers. Here is the data:

So a few observations as a fan:

  • 2014 really was an exceptional year across all metrics.
  • 2015-2017 saw a trend of improvement across all metrics.
  • Goals scored and shots on goal from forwards decreased – midfield picked up a lot of the slack.
  • 2018 – at 11 games into a 34 game schedule – looks pretty grim.

Looking at the top scorers who are forwards for each season (over 8 goals/season):

  • 2014: Oba, Clint, Barrett: 39 goals (of 42 from forwards, 64 total)
  • 2015: Oba, Clint: 25 goals (of 31 goals from forwards, 44 total)
  • 2016: Jordan, Clint: 20 goals (of 20 goals from forwards, 43 total)
  • 2017: Clint, Bruin: 23 goals (of 26 goals from forwards, 51 total)

Make your own conclusions about 2014 to 2017. I see a team that is doing “the right thing” – with goals being scored. I am sure there are more nuanced conversations using specific player data per game.

2018 continues to stand out with a lack of goals. I don’t think the data needs calling out – we have supported through this for 11 games.

The final data looked at the cumulative points over the 34 game season.

The bad: a linear trend leaves us with 32 points. Urg.

The good: as we recover from injuries, hopefully make some signings – it gets better.

If we have a final 23 games like the final 23 games of 2017 (regular season, not the playoffs) we close with 51 points. That’s playoffs.

 

 

 

Meeting Recap: Special meeting with Adrian Hanauer and Garth Lagerwey

June 7, 2018

By Stephanie Steiner

Council’s role in this meeting is to determine whether or not we have confidence in the plan in place: Does it make sense? Is the General Manager making good choices with the information at hand at the time? Hindsight makes us all brilliant, but that isn’t reality.

While Council President Martin Buckley took the role of Brain(iac), my role in this meeting was more in line with representing the emotions of the fan base: our disappointment, unmet expectations, and what should be done to reach the Alliance Members frustrated by our current situation. Also: when you see the data presentations that Martin brings to the meetings – I’m not going to compete with that. I’d rather lead a naked army across a cracking icy lake.  He excels at data and you can read his post here.

We walked through injuries (compared to years past and data from other teams), injury timing, and recovery data.  Essentially, and if you’ve been in these conversations with any of us or Adrian or Garth before you know this one already:  your best players need to be on the pitch making contributions to the game. Everything boils down to that. Super-short off seasons, especially two years in a row, take their toll on players. One month off and coming right back to training for CONCACAF is brutal: players are not machines. Toronto FC is in a similar situation. There are some who might say ‘well you should have known that and rotated out your players,’ but really?  This is me talking now, not them: how much tolerance would we have for a Club that whacks 15 players annually to always have players at 23-26 years of age? We love loving our lads and it takes time to build relationships. Players need time to mature and develop skill sets: and they learn them from established veterans. Locker room dynamic needs to be respected. Bonding among our men is important for all of them to trust each other and be a real team not just a product on the field. So even though I don’t know as much as most of you, I don’t care for this idea. Also: our young lads get hurt too.

We talked at considerable length about our goal scoring average, which led us into a conversation about player acquisitions:  There is a plan with multiple layers. When the primary target’s contract is inked, they will announce (pending all of the normal stuff) because they love us and they want us to be happy. The primary target’s identity was not revealed; however, they did say that the current rumor fits the type of player, position, and style that they’d seek. Everything else after that is dependent on that outcome – if that player is a yes: then it’s a different set of players to pursue based on that player coming aboard.  If that contract should happen to not go through, then obviously that position still needs to be filled and then other complimentary positions also need to be filled.  Garth apologized for texting during the meeting as “we’re working a deal right now.”  (Erp, no problemo).

Regarding acquisitions during off-season:  it was definitely an objective to bring someone in during January.  Negotiations were completed and things fell apart at the very end because: reasons. Council was informed of the reasons at our first update with Garth (March 2018), but we agreed to keep that confidence (GAH! *[email protected]@!!*).  This is where the Club drives me nutty. Yes, I know that the Club does not want to ever have the reputation for throwing anyone under the bus. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise, because at that time we had Clint, Jordan, Nico, and Will all firepower up front – we didn’t yet know we’d need so much help up top: that’s not the position this person would have filled.  Turns out , it’s a huge impact when your firepower isn’t on the pitch together (injuries, suspensions, call-ups, etc.).  If that signing had gone through, money would have been tied up – now, it’s available to pursue what is the remedies for what ails us now.

The lack of storytelling this season is frustrating:  Garth and Adrian haven’t told us all what’s up.  Council has gotten a little more than the rest of Sounderland – or maybe we got some of it earlier than you all. Their philosophy has been that since they just can’t tell everyone enough, it’s better to be quiet.  We disagree with that: don’t break the rules, but we want them to talk about what they can talk about. Also please do it in multiple formats so that the information gets into the community. Garth does a radio show every week.  If you’ve listened, you know that teams don’t give up their good players when they’re still in their season. During that time, there are plenty of lousy players available, but not good ones (hence: no replacement for JMo).  Sounders: Garth said it on the radio and to the Times. <heavy sigh> Let’s find a way to take that snippet and put out into Sounders’ own social media.  As a matter of fact, why aren’t all of Garth’s KJR radio interviews broken out into Q&A and then put into links afterward and out into Sounders’ own social media?  This is a super important year with some presently crap circumstances:  don’t talk less, talk more. The Sounders have staff and have the ability to hire out: get more stories into multiple formats and put them out into the ether.

I think we might have had an impact here – you deserve more information about what’s going on in a lot of areas:  the Academy players are doing amazingly well – let’s learn more about that and celebrate the accomplishments.  We have a new High Performance Director, Damien Roden – really, that’s his title.  I want to learn about his story and how I can get a cool title like that. Hendy is great on Twitter with his pictures, and a “Where in the World is Hendy” could have been a fun social campaign and bright spot that brought us closer.  Of all years, this has year felt like they are distant from us – like they’ve created this monk-like commitment to modesty because of the GM Vote.  The impact is that we’re left feeling shut out of things that would have made a big difference, especially in this losing season but any season really.  Some of this might get though, but by the time any of the impact can reach you, so will the trade window: so maybe by August we won’t even notice because we’ll be scoring so many goals.

I’ll leave you with this, one more modified Awkward Yeti cartoon. We have many reasons to envision a bright future*:

*pending results of physical examinations and Visa approval, naturally.  Bwahahahaha.

Moving to SeatGeek – our notes

7 December 2017

By Karl Picard

Alliance Council have been notified of a few issues with the move to SeatGeek. We spoke with the Front Office and have received additional details around the rollout and the plan for the coming months.

There is a good summary, a walk through video and answers to questions at https://www.soundersfc.com/seatgeek

  • As announced in September, Sounders FC will be partnering with SeatGeek as their primary ticket partner
  • Since this is a new system, all season ticket members will have to “link” or setup and account with SeatGeek
  • The Sounders legally cannot transfer credit card information to the new system or create passwords for you, so the club cannot do this for you. (This is a good thing!)
  • Those who are on the 50/50 or 6 part payment plan need to link their accounts by Friday, December 29 as the next payment in January will be processed in SeatGeek.
  • Those who are paid in full will link their accounts in January and will have additional communications around that.
  • All members are required to link their accounts and input their credit card information to successfully set up their account for the 2018 season
  • If this is not completed by the deadline, it risks delay in season ticket package and receiving access to digital tickets
  • In terms of ticket delivery methods, you can still access the tickets through the Sounders FC app. The main change you will notice is instead of Ticketmaster Account Manager to print/forward/resell your tickets, you will have SeatGeek Account Manager, with similar and improved functions.

Have questions? Running into issues? First point of contact is to reach out to SeatGeek at 888-444-9028 or email [email protected] and they will assist you. Your Sounders FC ticket rep is always able to help as well.

Hopefully this helps with the transition to SeatGeek.

 

Alliance Council statement – call out to MLS

1 November 2017

By Martin Buckley and Stephanie Steiner

As the Alliance Council, representing Alliance Members and fans of Seattle Sounders FC, we recognize and celebrate the diversity of our communities.

Alliance Council and Supporter Groups have worked closely with the Sounders FC throughout the years around the fan experience inside and outside of the stadium.  We gave our strong opinions back in September following a series of incidents. We know that Community is important to all of us, and we continue to have a regular face-to-face engagement to advocate for and represent all fans.

We have seen how Alliance members and fellow fans have not been treated as expected – both at home and last weekend in Vancouver, BC. As fans we have been left frustrated, angry and confused at the vacuum in communication around these serious issues. We encourage all Sounders fans to respect and support each other as a community.

Alliance Council recognize our Club Ownership and Front Office for their continued support – both visible and otherwise. We applaud our Ownership in issuing a jointly signed, though delayed, statement of values: “At a human level, we believe these values to be non-­political. Speaking up for equality is simply the right thing to do.” We believe their statement was originally intended to be stronger, and we believe the dilution and the delay to be caused by MLS decision-makers.

Alliance Council look beyond our Club to Major League Soccer to provide a clear statement of values that recognizes the diversity of the fan base. The silence in this matter is deafening, disappointing and cowardly.  The decision made to eject our fans last Sunday was wrong, and the silence surrounding the decision is wrong.

Soccer is a global platform of inclusion and unity, and even a common language. Soccer is love, passion, and lifelong devotion.  It is these commitments that create the very foundations of Clubs around the world that have existed for more than a century.  Fans first, MLS.  Fans first.

Thanks to Jeff Williams and Roberta King for their content and for reviewing this statement.

Statement from Sounders FC was posted here – http://soundersalliance.org/2017/10/31/statement-from-club/