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Seattle’s Sigi Schmid sees conspiracy in Open Cup process

Columbus Crew v Seattle Sounders

SEATTLE, WA - MAY 23: Head coach Sigi Schmid of the Seattle Sounders getures during the match against the Columbus Crew at CenturyLink Field on May 23, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. The Crew defeated the Sounders 2-0. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

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Seattle Sounders coach Sigi Schmid is wrong in his complaints Sunday over U.S. Soccer methodology and alleged skullduggery … very, very wrong. And to his big bowl of Wrong Salad, the man ladled on a heaping helping of Bad Timing dressing.

Frankly, Schmid probably owes a round or two of apology beers. And his complaints … well, they don’t even make sense.

And yet, he managed to be just a little bit right. It’s tricky, but he pulled it off.

Schmid sent serious ripples across the U.S. Soccer pond Sunday when, in comments to the Seattle Times, he essentially accused U.S. Soccer of rigging the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup site selection process.

The comments in question:

Obviously the coin is not favorable for us. It seems to land on the right side for K.C. and D.C. United, whose president of one club and coach of the other have been on the executive committee of U.S. Soccer. Surprisingly. Being very frank, I think U.S. Soccer is trying to make it difficult for us to win an Open Cup. It’s almost like sometimes I get the feeling that they’d rather not see us win it again, for whatever reasons. Maybe they think it dilutes the value of the Cup or they’re getting pressure from some others that think Seattle can only win it because they’re playing at home.”

Oh, my.

There’s quite a bit more where those came from, too.

Mostly, it’s just wrong to go all conspiratorial like this, lobbing public accusations with absolutely no base of supporting evidence.

Schmid is talking about coin flips that determine host rights and matchups. And Seattle has had some bummer luck in the coin tossing. Still...

Yes, a club like D.C. United has played a bunch of Open Cup home matches since 2007. But that’s exactly why U.S. Soccer just altered the site selection process, to make it more difficult for larger clubs to out-bid smaller teams, essentially spending their way to better chances at favorable outcomes.

I didn’t like it, and neither did a bunch of folks, but it was perfectly up-and-up under the former competition guidelines.

Now, as for the tone deaf timing: Tomorrow, Schmid’s Sounders will benefit from a draw that left them playing Cal FC, an amateur side. And where is this David-and-Goliath, this pros vs. weekend amateurs matchup take place? It’s in Seattle for goodness sakes!

So, tell us again how things are being unfairly rigged by The Man against Seattle?

Open Cup logo

By the way, where was last year’s final? Oh, yes … in Seattle!

And the one before that? Oh … In Seattle!

C’mon, Sigi!

I tried to get a U.S. Soccer spokesman on the phone this morning, but haven’t heard back. I wanted more information on the one element of Schmid’s rant that did make some sense, a.k.a. the dollop of “right” in the big pot of “wrong.”

It would be nice for U.S. Soccer to add a layer of technical transparency to the process. It wouldn’t be difficult to stream the coin tosses (or make it a series of ping pong ball pulls or whatever). Until that happens, U.S. Soccer will always hear the grumbling. From somewhere – especially as the tournament grows in significance.

Soccer By Ives did reach U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati. Here’s what Gulati told the soccer news site:

Sigi’s comments are completely inappropriate and frankly quite offensive. The fact that you lose a few coin flips in a row, that can happen, and that’s what’s happened here. To imply any kind of conspiracy against Seattle or in favor of D.C. or Kansas City is nonsense.

In the same set of comments, Sigi points out that he’s been a part of three finals when he hosted a game, including the last two in Seattle. It’s nonsense.”

By the way, the big-picture bottom line here is this: people care about this tournament enough to drag it through conspiratorial mud and knock these issues around in mainstream media and blogging universe. Ten years ago, Schmid might have said the same thing in a public forum, but without any significant reverberation.