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.

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

Alliance Council Executive – comments on Sounders FC and CenturyLink Field statement

12 September 2017

By Martin Buckley and Stephanie Steiner

Alliance Council have been working directly with the Sounders FC around the entire fan experience since before the first game of the season.

The multiple changes for entry to CenturyLink Field, the move to clear bags and limits on sizes of purses have presented many challenges. We continue to present our experiences and concerns to the Club – and encourage all fans to report issues as they occur. Please stay in touch with your ticket representatives and provide details of any concerns or issues (time, gate, person’s name if possible).

We are fans too. We enter the stadium through the same gates and experience the same security teams. During the season we have seen a repeated lack of consistency in the application of gate policy. As stewards of the fan experience we have collected this repeatedly and brought it to the Club.

This past weekend many of our fans reported a range of unsatisfactory experiences. Yes we listened, yes we flagged these immediately post game with our Front  Office representatives.

As fans we won’t see the inner workings of the Club. This is similar to an iceberg. We see the ten percent above the waterline.

The joint statement from the Sounders FC and CenturyLink Field is much like this. Weas fans, as Alliance Council – are not privy to the internal conversations and activities of the Club. I can imagine there were meetings across different groups – and these are likely sensitive.

What we do know is that the Club is listening to us all – Alliance Council, Supporter Groups, and every individual fan who provides feedback. We expect our Club to always celebrate and support the diversity of the fans and our broader community.

What we expect from our Club and the stadium at this time is inclusive, welcoming and consistent treatment for every fan. At the gates. Inside the stadium. Every time.

Alliance Constitution Vote – Thank You!

25 July 2017

By Martin Buckley

Last week we closed Alliance wide voting for the ratification or approval of the updated Alliance Constitution.

We are proud and happy to announce that the Constitution was overwhelmingly approved by all who voted. Thank you! This means that that 2017 Constitution and Bylaws now provide the structure and governance for the Alliance and Alliance Council.

Results:

 Individual UsersWeighted vote
YES97%96%
NO3%4%

It is worth a few notes to discuss these results.

Firstly – turnout was relatively low. We expected this. Although we all love Democracy in Sports – Constitution ratification is a decidedly un-glamourous activity. We certainly expect a lot more Alliance engagement for something as significant as a General Manager Vote. The weighted vote is fully covered here – effectively one seat/ticket – one vote.

Secondly – this vote was our dry-run for the General Manager Vote which is due during 2018. We worked closely with the Club on timing, communication, email, in-ground messaging and the voting platform. We learned a lot. We will continue to refine how we (as Alliance Council) communicate with the Alliance as a whole. We found that more of you engaged through Social Media than through the email from the club. In addition we still have work to do around Alliance awareness amongst newer Season Ticket Holders.

Finally – thank you to the team that helped make this vote happen. To the representatives of the Club who worked on communication, voting platform, in-stadium visibility and more. To the Alliance Council members who advocated for this vote with friends, fellow section members and at the Eintracht Frankfurt friendly. Most of all to you. All of the Alliance Members who voted to support this.