By John Boyle Herald Writer
SEATTLE — Sounders FC players and coaches were unhappy with the team’s effort in a 4-0 loss to Los Angeles Saturday.
“I think the fans deserve a big apology,” midfielder forward Steve Zakuani said after the game. “They can’t pay to watch that. That wasn’t good enough today.”
The team’s ownership and front office, it turns out, agreed, and in an unusual move, they will go into their pockets to make it right with fans.
Sounders FC general manager and minority owner Adrian Hanauer announced Sunday that, as a result of his team’s lackluster effort, season ticket holders will get their money back for Saturday’s debacle. The team won’t be handing out refunds, but current season ticket holders who renew for next season will get one game for free to make up for a performance Hanauer called embarrassing and humiliating.
The loss to the Galaxy dropped Sounders FC into last place in the Western Conference, and was Seattle’s first home loss by more than one goal. It also matched a road game in San Jose last season as the worst loss in team history. And that performance came in front of a crowd of 36,273, a record for a Sounders FC league game.
“We just decided that clearly that wasn’t a good enough effort, wasn’t enough heart, wasn’t enough passion, wasn’t enough love of the game, and the only good performance was that of our fans,” Hanauer said in a phone interview. “So we just decided that they’ve been with us for the long haul, we need them for the long haul, and this is the right thing to do. They don’t deserve to be treated to that performance.”
With 32,000 current season ticket holders, the move represents a potentially big financial hit for Sounders FC assuming a good portion of those fans renew their tickets, but according to Hanauer, it is a sacrifice worth making. After a sleepless night, Hanauer called team owners and front office personnel to propose the refund, and none hesitated to sign off on the idea.
“Our season ticket holders are or our lifeblood and we’re always going to do our best to treat that group with complete respect and honor,” he said. “It was like a two minute conversation with each person. It was a no brainer even if it is a big number when you do the math.”
And while the refund represents a generous gesture to one of the league’s most passionate fan bases, it certainly won’t become a regular occurrence.
“This isn’t a precedent where every time we have a bad performance we’re going to refund people, but this one just stung extra hard,” Hanauer said. “I can live with losses where we’ve left everything on the field and maybe there are some bad bounces or bad calls, but losing by four goals in that game, the overall performance, it wasn’t good enough.”