Fan reaction isn't an easy thing to judge. Different fans, different reactions.
Yet, sometimes a consensus of feeling does shift. And I thought I felt that Saturday, when the Red Bulls came into Qwest Field and took three points from the Sounders, 1-0. It seemed a little too much like the losses of last season. (Hence, my conversation with Adrian Hanauer yesterday.) But even more, it seemed to feel like maybe fans were viewing these Sounders a little differently: less the overachieving expansion darlings and now the established MLS team of whom better results -- a goal, for example -- might be expected.
Then I heard something similar on KJR the next day. Someone said it was like the honeymoon had ended. I'm not sure that's exactly how I'd characterize it, but clearly we were sort of picking up on the same general feeling.
So, I asked Adrian Hanauer a little bit about that yesterday. And also Sigi Schmid (on my other sports duties I have heard even highly successful coaches say that their email turns far more critical after even a single loss).
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However, neither Hanauer nor Schmid seemed to be noticing the little fan shift I thought I had picked up on.
Hanauer: "For sure when you’re an expansion team there are very few expectations. Now we’ve won a championship – we won the Open Cup – we’ve qualified for the playoffs, best team defensively, four all-stars, sell out every game: The expectations I think get set at a new level. And now we need to exceed those expectations, which gets harder. But those aren’t just expectations set by the fans, those are expectations set internally as well. We want to sell more tickets, we want to have more sponsors and more happy sponsors, we want to do a better job broadcasting, we want to do more in the community and on the field, we want to score more goals, give up less, win more championships, play better (and) more exciting soccer, so do all those things that lead to those expectations."
Schmid: “I didn’t get any emails this week. I don’t hear anything when we lose. I got a phone call from somebody I hadn’t talked to in a long time explaining to me that when he saw us play against Barcelona last year and saw this game and comparing and contrasting the performances. So I thought that was a little interesting. You try and be polite. It’s a situation obviously fans are fans and their heart and soul is in it. So you get disappointed. I mean, we are disappointed when we don’t get the result.”
How about you guys? Did the New York loss -- and the fan reaction to it -- feel a little different? Anybody relate at all to what I'm talking about?