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/

 

Statement from Club

STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC OWNERSHIP
A public statement from Seattle leadership following Sunday’s Western Conference Semifinals first leg in Vancouver

For Immediate Release: October 31, 2017
Contact: Alex Caulfield, 206-­512-­1225

SEATTLE, WASH. – On behalf of its Ownership Group, Seattle Sounders FC today issued the following statement on the heels of Sunday’s first leg of the 2017 MLS Western Conference Semifinals:

“Seattle Sounders FC is aware of the events that occurred within the club’s supporters’ section during the first leg of the 2017 Western Conference Semifinals at  BC Place on Sunday evening, where two travelling supporters were ejected for holding a sign that read: ‘Anti-­fascist, anti-­racist, always Seattle.’ We would like to reassure our fans that both the league and our club believe strongly in inclusion and acceptance. Tolerance and inclusiveness are pillars of our society, and ideals we take seriously as an organization. At a human level, we believe these values to be non-­political. Speaking up for equality is simply the right thing to do.”

/s/ Adrian Hanauer  Joe Roth Paul Allen  Drew Carey

10-31-17 Sounders FC Club Statement

Star Wars – calling it a win

21 September 2017

By Stephanie Steiner

Sounders: You will have a star. Our team earned it, we will all be able to celebrate that championship authentically regardless of our size or gender. You matter. The star matters. We have been heard.

Very recently the Sounders’ Front Office announced on a joint call with MLS and adidas’ committee regarding championship stars, that regardless of the 2017 MLS Cup match outcome, all Sounders jerseys will have access to stars earned. 

Here are the details: 

Since we got involved and began applying pressure in this conversation, MLS and adidas agreed that they could work stars into the production of 2019 kits, but gave us lip service about the “complications,” of anything for 2018.  This came in a letter from MLS’s Chief Legal Counsel that essentially told us to shut up and go away, if they had anything to communicate, they’d do it via the Club. 

I made the request that they put the desires of the fans first, and consider that after-purchase heat application can be a viable solution for any club. We followed up with the Club consistently only to learn that a committee had been formed. There was “no news” for a long time.

On August 20th of this year, the Alliance Council had our summer meeting with owners and leadership, and I inquired about the status of the star situation.  It was reiterated that 2019 kits would be covered: since nothing was manufactured, production could accommodate championship acknowledgement* on authentic and replica jerseys. Next, a new complication: MLS had expanded their investment into retail by vastly multiplying their contracted retail outlets and were worried that if only some stores could heat apply stars and others couldn’t, those stores which couldn’t would return the jerseys they ordered, and this could hamper the relationship they’d just built with these new small stores.  My view: MLS is putting the relationships with stores ahead of the relationship with fans.  I called BS.

I said that the small retailers who’d just partnered with MLS were either capable of heat application or they were not capable, and they were already aware of their capabilities because they either have the equipment to heat apply names and numbers to jerseys, or they don’t have the equipment. So for them to get into business with MLS and reject jerseys over a star is a ludicrous idea.  What was really going on here is that MLS and adidas were fully aware that those small stores know whether or not they can heat apply stars.  What they were counting on is that I wasn’t aware enough to figure that out. It was just another line of crap.

 

Image from YouTube

Based on the lack of supportive developments from MLS, I let the Sounders owners and leadership know that we intended to go forward with our plans to protest (Sounders were/are not the target and I also made sure I was clear to reinforce that).  I was done with MLS and adidas putting more reasons for not honoring fans into a conversation that never should have been necessary to begin with:  they caused the problem, and they continued to cause more problems in our request that they solve the issue they created.  I have zero confidence that they ever approached this from the perspective of “fan first.” They never even included a fan representative on the committee.

Bart Wiley, COO, represents the Sounders on this committee.  He let us know that he’d be on a call with the rest of the group in early September.  Martin Buckley, Vice President of the Alliance Council followed up with him on Tuesday and learned that Bart announced on the committee call that Sounders FC will acquire stars for all 2018 jerseys purchased through our official team stores and our partner stores, regardless of the plans made (or not made) by MLS and adidas.  This is big.

Now: what about everyone else?  We said we were in this for all championship winners, not just us.  We requested and received a commitment from Bart Wiley that our Club will assist any other club that wishes to do the same.  It was our hope that MLS and adidas would step up, but they didn’t: I’m proud of our Club.

At this point, we will not proceed with our plans to protest: we’re calling this a win for fans.  Early this year, Taylor Graham wanted me to explain what our protest plans were. I declined and said instead when this was resolved, I’d buy an adult beverage for him, Bart, Doug Orwiler, each of the owners, and Martin Buckley – and I’d explain the details of the protest they had avoided.  My offer still stands.

We have way too many people to thank individually:

First, we all need to thank Bart and the front office leaders at Seattle Sounders FC who stood up for us fans in this conversation when MLS and adidas shut us out. The Sounders have many reasons to keep a strong relationship with both of those entities and they chose to put fans first. Bart Wiley made the announcement, and I’m sure there were more people involved in the decision.

Next, I want to thank all of the attorneys who said yes to supporting us “ACLU style” when I asked them to buff up on protestors’ rights and be present on the day, in case legal minds were needed to remind cops and stadium security that all was legal.

I send very special and whole-hearted thanks to the other clubs across the league that were willing to join and get their fans on board. Many clubs have won; all clubs have the possibility of earning that star. We were never in this just for ourselves and knowing we had the ability to create a visible protest in multiple cities on behalf of all fans and all clubs is tremendous.

Of course, I thank all of you who met us at Fuel or joined in when I asked for your help on social media: it shows the love and commitment you have for your Club, your Crest, and your Championship. It matters.

Last, but never least:  we all need to thank Martin Buckley for his diligence, thoughtfulness, and (for me!) keeping me out of jail.

*There’s a rumor going around that 2019 championships (and beyond) will be recognized with an emblem other than a star. Because MLS.  As a fan, I think it’s absolute marketing garbage.  As the President of the Alliance Council – this is not our fight.

Photo credit badge for the main image: Jon Tyson