Sounders FC to pay back fans for poor outing
Team announces it will give its season-ticket holders a one-game credit toward next season
Seattle Times staff reporter
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TUKWILA — After a disgraceful 4-0 loss at home to the Los Angeles Galaxy, Sounders FC forward/midfielder Steve Zakuani said the fans deserve an apology and shouldn't have had to pay to see that kind of performance.
Turns out Seattle's ownership agreed.
Less than 24 hours after the team suffered its worst home loss and dropped to sole possession of last place in the Western Conference, the team announced Sunday it will refund its 32,000 season-ticket holders for the embarrassment.
The compensation will come in the form of a one-game credit toward next year's season-ticket packages.
"We're in this for the long haul. We need them (the fans) to be in it for the long haul," said Adrian Hanauer, the team's co-owner and general manager, at the Starfire Sports Complex.
"That wasn't Sounders soccer. And it was quite frankly embarrassing, humiliating, and they don't deserve that."
After a sleepless night, Hanauer acted on Zakuani's comments by calling his fellow co-owners and other members in management with the idea of paying back the fans. He said he received nothing but support for the gesture from, among others, majority owner Joe Roth, chief executive officer Tod Leiweke and Gary Wright, the senior vice president of business operations.
Clubs in Europe have been known to refund fans after poor performances, but Hanauer said this move will not set a precedent.
"We don't plan on giving people money back every time we have a bad game," Hanauer said. "But as the owners of the club, we reserve the right to do whatever we think we need to do to treat our fans the way they've treated us."
Despite losing by four goals late in the game Saturday, many of the 36,273 fans (a team-record crowd for an MLS game) stayed and cheered through the final whistle.
Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid said the fans' tribute was moving, despite the team's shockingly bad performance.
"The fans support throughout the game and the way they remained and supported us after the game was phenomenal — something that for me was very emotional," Schmid said. "It's something that doesn't happen anywhere else.
"I've been in Los Angeles and coached there where if you would've lost a game like that, even playing with the best intentions or losing with a tighter score, that's not the reception you would've gotten. You would've been booed off the field. And you would've had to dodge obstacles as you left the field. But our fans were in full support and it's something that we appreciate."
Hanauer said refunding the fans is the first act the team will make in response to the loss.
Next up? Making moves.
Hanauer said the team might sacrifice talented players for those that will play with energy, passion, heart and "bleed for the Seattle Sounders club." The team will also be more aggressive in conversations with other teams seeking trades and expect to be active when the league's transfer window opens again in July.
Everyone on the team, he said, from ownership to the players is responsible in getting Sounders FC performing again at a high level.
"When you look at the results, you see the Seattle Sounders in last place in the West this morning. And that's just not frickin' acceptable," Hanauer said. "Not while I'm involved. I hate to be the 'if heads have to roll' kind of guy, but we're just not going to remain in last place."
• The team had a 2-1 reserve-game win Sunday against the Yakima Reds behind two goals by Roger Levesque. Forward/midfielder Pat Noonan, who has missed the past three games with a hamstring injury, played 30 minutes.
• Midfielder Osvaldo Alonso, who had to leave Saturday's game early with a quadriceps strain, is expected to miss one or two weeks.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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