As the hangover from the Seattle Sounders’ disappointing playoff performance against the LA Galaxy began to fade, a different kind of headache set in. The large pile of allocation money that came with their entry into the league had been exhausted, and the previous flexibility afforded by CONCACAF Champions League qualification was no longer in play.
The Sounders success over their first four seasons in MLS has lead to exponentially higher expectations, and it’s fair to say those expectations were not met in the 2012 season. It was the first trophy-less year in the club’s MLS history, and though the team took a step forward by advancing past the first round of the playoffs the meek showing against the Galaxy was all too familiar.
For long stretches of 2012, the Sounders looked as good a team as any in MLS. But their inconsistency in mid-year and second consecutive collapse in the playoffs left a sense of a mission unaccomplished, and lacking the means to make meaningful additions to the squad, decisions needed to be made. Seattle’s payroll bumped right along the top of the league’s salary cap even with the competitive advantages --both granted and earned-- that they’d enjoyed in years past, and a failure of the team to live up to their potential put the club’s front office in an unenviable position.