Sounders FC majority owner Joe Roth watched MLS First Kick from Qwest Field for the third straight season on Tuesday night in a 1-0 loss to the LA Galaxy. Before the match, he talked about his expectations for the 2011 season.
Q: How do you feel going into the third season in what Sigi Schmid has essentially called a make-or-break season?
A: I think we started the second season overconfident because we made the playoffs in the first season and it showed. We had a horrible first half of the second season. I think we’re in much better shape now. We’ve got new faces, we’ve got a lot of depth. And I think after the first month or so we’re going to see what this team has.
Q: Over the last two years, what have you learned about the soccer business?
A: It’s a cruel game. The business, you can manage. The game itself is a cruel game. In a sport where so few goals are scored, it’s a matter of inches or hitting a post or a referee not seeing a call or making a phantom call. It’s a frustrating game.
Q: You’ve played and coached for years though. Is it different because the stakes are higher?
A: It’s amplified because I can’t do anything about it. It’s one thing if I’m a player or if I’m a coach where there’s a feeling that I can do something about it. As an owner all I can do is transmit good or evil thoughts, depending on what’s going on.
Q: This is a big year for MLS, adding Portland and Vancouver. What does that mean for Seattle?
A: I think Seattle is the place to be for American soccer and you’re going to see that even more with Portland and Vancouver. I think you’re going to see European style rivalries and animosity between these three cities. I think it’s good for the city.
Q: Have you seen that kind of animosity in sports before?
A: I guess we have the Yankees and Red Sox, but this just feels like an open sore. I hope everyone is in good spirits and behaves themselves, but there certainly seems to be a lot of juice between these two cities.
Q: Is that the biggest challenge of this year – navigating the rivalries?
A: There are a lot of challenges and this level of hostility will be new to MLS and we’ll have to make sure it doesn’t get out of hand.