As the Sounders completed training for Kansas City today, it was clear that coach Sigi Schmid is planning a lineup that includes both Fredy Montero and Freddie Ljungberg for the first time. And what that means is some player who has contributed to the Sounders 3-0 start is going to have his starting job taken from him despite that perfect nine points in three games.
And while Schmid doesn't yet want to go announce who that is, he already has had that conversation with the player. So I asked Schmid how he handles the human side of delivering such a decision. And I thought his answer was pretty impressive:
"I learned a long time ago when I was a player and I had a coach," he said. "At the time I didn't like it, but it helped me out as a lot as a coach, when he put me on the bench, and I had never been on the bench in my life and really didn't give an explanation. And when I asked him, he really didn't have a reason. So my word always to my players have been, 'Look, I've got to be able to give you a reason. You might not agree with my reason, but if I can't give you a reason then you can call me every name in the book, and we'll move on. But if I have a reason, we can talk about it.'
"You try to talk to players. You can't talk to everybody every week. But you try to talk players and let them know if a guy is doing well and you're making a lineup change, letting them know where he still fits in. Each guy, it's an individual thing, as to what you say to the player, his age, how many years he's been in the league, what the status is, who's replacing him, etcetera, etcetera. Hopefully they're able to maintain their motivation and keep going forward. It's a long season, a lot of guys play."
Schmid also was asked what he thinks about a lineup mixing Fredy with Freddie.
"It changes how some other guys have to play," he said. "It changes everybody's role a little bit. It's just a matter of how all that mixes together. I think always things like that are just a function of time. Sometimes they come together quicker. Sometimes they take a little longer. Sometimes they don't come together. As long as everybody knows what their role are and what their responsibilities are, and I think everybody is pretty clear about that."
Finally -- since Schmid is keeping his lineup a secret -- I asked him if such secrecy really affects a game.
"It's usually just one or two personnel decisions, but I just think it's always good just to guess a little bit," he said. "They're not going to disclose their lineup to me, so it's good to have them guess a little bit."