But it strikes me that a longer-term indication is the Sounders three-season success in U.S. Open Cup, often using players who weren't regulars during MLS play.
We asked Schmid about that today after the club finished Starfire training in advance of their Open Cup opener tomorrow night against Atlanta.
"We spend enough time talking about it, that’s for sure," he said. "It’s like trying to analyze, and sometimes decisions are tough because players want to play every game and you have to decide well is this maybe is the right game. Yeah, he wants to play, but I really think right now he needs a rest or he needs to come off the bench or this is the right combination. Sometimes you make a determination that you want to play this particular player because he needs a runout. Well, if I play him at center forward it’s probably better to play this guy on the wing; then maybe if I play this guy at center forward maybe this other guy on the wing makes more sense. So you look at all those balances. We discuss it a lot. We talk about it a lot as a staff. And I think we’ve been fortunate to have made some good decisions. But that’s the way it always is as a game: When you make your substitutions sometimes they work out, sometimes they don’t. And if they pay off more times than they don’t, you’re doing well; and if they pay off less times than they don’t, then you’re probably looking for a job."
Schmid also clarified what it means to him, when he hears that some MLS teams do or don't take Open Cup seriously:
"To me, when you say ‘take it seriously’ it means your not going to throw the game away. And what I mean by that is, I think every squad had – yeah at some point you determine ‘this is my starting lineup’ – but every squad has players where you think, ‘hey, those guys can play and we don’t lose that much.’ So now if you’re not going to put any starters on the field and you’re going to go 12 deep onto your bench or something or 13 deep onto your bench, then that’s a different story. But I think if you’re going six, seven, eight deep on your bench, you’re giving guys who are normally on the bench a chance to get a run-out and play, that’s showing that you are taking it seriously because you’re still picking from your top 18-20 players."