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RORY'S QUESTIONS FOR SOUNDER AT HEART
Hi Dave. This is Kirk, though I comment on Sounder at Heart as StarzHallowSounder. Our friend Rory had some questions about the Sounders, so I'm passing them along; minor editing in some places.
1) Someone at Yale told me Clint Dempsey was the best player the Sounders have. I looked at his stats, and he's not the leading goal scorer. So is he not the best player on the Sounders?
Soccer is kind of funny that way. Clint is a having a great season. It's probably the second best of his life. He's doing even more of the fancy stuff than usual and is a key component on the team. He may be the best player, but Obafemi Martins is the more valuable one. Oba is scoring more often, assisting others and plays some pretty good defense for a forward. He could be the MVP this year. Martins is fast enough that the team can send balls over and spring him free. He's also strong enough physically and on the ball that he can be used as a target man. You should be able to have a nice debate about "best" versus "value."
2) We were told the Alliance Council could teach us something about putting customers first. How has that worked to increase a sense of community?
Council has done some great things in helping the team better understand the fans. The fans now design the season ticket holder scarf and hold a contest to determine the best. Season ticket renewals were moved up so that the Playoff expenses and 2015 ticket costs didn't overlap so much, that's helped the team and fans. It also helped craft the ways that the team recognized the 40 years of Sounders tradition here in Seattle. That involved patches, on-field celebrations of past stars, digital media blow-outs and increased connections to a past that about half the fanbase didn't know existed.
Way back in '09 the Supporters Summit was managed by Council. Issues related to communication have been addressed through the open channels between fans and ownership that the Alliance Council created. It's a decent focus group that is fan selected rather than demographic. The goals are much greater than that, but for now it is an improvement on traditional focus groups. One thing is bigger than the rest.
The biggest thing that Council did doesn't relate to the First Team. It planted the seed for the fans owning part of the Sounders. While that was difficult, if not impossible, to do with MLS when Sounders 2 started to become a reality that seed started to grow. Through the Alliance Council the concept of a Community Trust took hold and now fans have a 20% share of the new USL PRO Sounders 2 via the Sounders Community Trust. The most die-hardy of the die-hards can say they own a part of the Sounders (they technically are only members of a thing that owns a minority share of an independent team that shares business resources with the MLS Sounders).
3) This is Kirk now. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to ask why the Sounders were so ineffective against Vancouver. Do you know how late I had to stay up to see them do a whole fat lot of nothing? Don't tell Rory I stole her third question.
Kirk, haven't seen you comment in a while. You could have just asked this there and Rory could get a bit more research for school. Two main things stymied Seattle's offense. Waston is a beast in the air and pretty good at intercepting ground passes. He's nearly as good as Omar Gonzalez or Chad Marshall at that whole centerback thing. Seattle tried to cross it through his space and that's a horrible idea. Secondly, the Sounders forwards like to drop back into space, but with Laba and Teibert sitting a bit deeper they were right where Oba and Clint succeed. That did mean that they couldn't enter the attack as much, but playing essentially a four-man defense against Martins and Dempsey kept Seattle from scoring. It's a quite defensive tactic. Vancouver needed to play that way to get the points, the Cascadia Cup and currently lead Portland in the Playoff hunt.