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Thiel: After 0-3 Start, Sounders Need To 'Grow Up' And Get Energized

Ted S. Warren
AP Photo
Sounders forward Clint Dempsey tries to silence opposing supporters after he scored a goal against Guadalajara during the second half of a CONCACAF Champions League soccer match, March 7, 2018, in Seattle. The Sounders won 1-0.

After back-to-back appearances in the Major League Soccer championship match, the Seattle Sounders are 0-3 this season. They have yet to score a goal but have garnered some high-profile penalties.

It’s the topic of this week’s conversation between KNKX sports commentator Art Thiel and KNKX Morning Edition Host Kirsten Kendrick.

Part Behavior, Part Performance

Thiel said there's no excuse for how some of the Sounders have been acting.

"This is a mature team. This is a team that's been to two Major League Soccer Cups. They're the two-time defending Western Conference champions. Lots of veteran leadership. And they're acting like adolescent boys."

"I speak specifically of red card violations that occurred in each of the last two games that cost the team players. During the game they're thrown out and they have to sit out the next game."

"The worst episode, I think, occurred a couple of weeks ago against Dallas when Clint Dempsey, during a dead ball situation, was just standing there. His defender came up behind him and Dempsey reached back and hit him in the nether regions. And was red carded and thrown out."

"It was clearly just an impulse behavior that had no place for a 34-year-old guy. Dempsey's got a reputation of being a street fighter and getting away with stuff. But this was just so uncalled for."

"And then the next game, the more recent one against Montreal, a guy who has no reputation for physically abusing opponents, Kelvin Leerdam, got into a tussle with his opponent (Daniel Lovitz)."

"They went for a header and Leerdam tumbled into him a little bit. Then Leerdam reached a hand out to fend him off, but it turned into a slap. In soccer, you cannot put your hands on the opponents' face. Leerdam at least apologized."

"He said, 'It was a foolish thing. I shouldn't have done it.' And seemed very contrite. We haven't heard from Dempsey about that sort of thing. But it really did damage not only the players' reputations but the team's chances."

Why Aren't They Scoring?

"The absence of Jordan Morris is a big deal," Thiel explained about why the team hasn't scored.

"He hurt his knee and is out for the year after surgery. He was such a vital part of the Sounders' attack that his absence is large and they have yet to fill that void."

"Clint Dempsey is showing his age at 34. He's not nearly as effective a scorer as he was."

"But there's also a lack of energy that I've seen. Maybe there's a hangover from two times in the MLS Cup. That's two seasons that go longer than any other team but one. I can understand a bit of a fatigue factor."

"They have had slow starts before. This is not a situation that is not recoverable. They can get back to it. They don't play until April 15. Maybe the time off is going to be a lecture series with videos on how to behave and how to score."

Never miss an episode again. Subscribe to Sports With Art Thiel with iTunes orGoogle Play now. You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest and

Kirsten Kendrick hosts Morning Edition on KNKX and the sports interview series "Going Deep," talking with folks tied to sports in our region about what drives them — as professionals and people.
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.