MLS Soccer

Failure to communicate cost Sounders in last loss

What the Seattle Sounders had in Colorado was a failure to communicate.

In the first half of the 3-1 loss to the Rapids, the Sounders frustrated coach Sigi Schmid with their inability to see what was going wrong and then show the initiative to fix it.

In the second half, referee Jorge Gonzalez’s unwillingness to communicate frustrated captain Brad Evans to the degree that he picked up a yellow, and then another. That equaled a red card that forced the Sounders to play the final minutes short-handed and will keep Evans unavailable Saturday when the Columbus Crew visits.

Then another shoe dropped Wednesday, when the MLS Disciplinary Committee added an undisclosed fine against Evans “for using offensive, insulting and abusive language toward an official.”

After the game, Evans explained that he had asked Gonzalez for a clarification on what seemed to be different calls on similar fouls and on what Evans believed to be a missed offside decision.

According to Evans, Gonzalez said — twice — that he didn’t need to explain himself; Evans responded — twice — with expletives, and Gonzalez reacted— twice — by showing yellow cards.

“Obviously, you don’t want players to get red cards, and especially red cards for arguing with the referee,” Schmid said. “I think Brad understands that as well. Certainly there was a frustration level there in the calls the referee was making.”

Schmid shared some of those frustrations regarding the calls, and regarding Gonzalez’s apparent unwillingness to engage with the Sounders captain.

“Referees who will talk to you a little bit and explain things, I think, go a long way in respect to the players having a good feeling about them,” Schmid said. “When a referee says, ‘I don’t have to explain anything to you,’ that kind of thing, then it builds a (wall) between the players and the referee.”

Immediately after the Colorado match, Schmid complained about his team’s lack of communication. Specifically, he was unhappy that none of his players took the initiative to adjust when the Rapids started bringing forward Shkelzen Gashi off the front line to receive the ball.

On Wednesday, Schmid expanded on the kinds of in-game adjustments he expects from his players.

“It’s the beauty of the sport because you don’t have timeouts,” he said. “As a result of that, things change on the fly. … One decision creates a reaction. So if there’s two things available on a table, and I grab one, you’re going to grab the other. If I stand there and look at it and I don’t make a decision, and you’re waiting for me to make a decision, we both stand there and do nothing.

“In the Colorado game, sometimes we became passive in that regard, and it’s just about being more aggressive by making our decision, and then the other players recognizing the decision and then doing what’s appropriate.”

ADDED TIME

Forwards Clint Dempsey (groin) and Nelson Valdez (hamstring), who were held out of the Colorado match, trained Wednesday. Schmid did not commit to their availability for Saturday match. ... However, Schmid indicated that forward/midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz (thigh strain) likely will be unavailable. … Midfielder Osvaldo Alonso will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Seattle Mariners game against the World Series champion Kansas City Royals on Sunday at Safeco Field. … The Sounders will return to training Thursday at Starfire Sports Complex.

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