BY Art Thiel 11:44AM 07/26/2016

Sounders fire Schmid; Schmetzer interim coach

A 6-12-2 start doomed Sigi Schmid, a Hall of Fame coach who was fired Tuesday by the Sounders, who are used to perennial playoff contention but are ninth in the 10-team Western Conference.

Hall of Famer Sigi Schmid leaves the Sounders with an MLS-best 228 regular-season victories. / Wiki Commons

The only head coach in the Sounders’ eight-year run in Major League Soccer, Sigi Schmid, was fired Tuesday after a 6-12-2 record, Seattle’s worst start to an MLS season. But the failure to reach the MLS Cup, much less win it, as did rival Portland in December, weighed heavily because the Sounders have the most popular and well-resourced team in the U.S. league.

Longtime assistant Brian Schmetzer, who goes back to the Sounders’ USL days, was named interim coach.

“Sigi Schmid has been an invaluable member of Sounders FC since the club’s MLS launch, leading our organization to numerous trophies and a consistent winning culture for seven seasons,” team owner Adrian Hanauer said in a club statement. “Sigi departs the club with our utmost respect and gratitude for his years of service. Ultimately the club and Sigi agreed that a change was needed at this time, but Sigi’s legacy will always be a part of our history. He has my sincere appreciation for all that he committed to our team and community.”

The listless Sounders were blown out Sunday in Kansas City, 3-0, leaving them ninth in the Western Conference with 20 points, an abrupt change for a team that has never missed the playoffs.

The Sounders have never found a coherent offense this season, seeming to vanish with the surprise preseason departure of Obafemi Martins to a stunning offer from the pro league in China.

“I want to thank Seattle Sounders FC for the opportunity to lead this club over the past eight years,” Schmid said in a statement, “with particular gratitude to Adrian Hanauer, Joe Roth and the rest of the club’s ownership group.

“I’d also like to thank my coaches and technical staff for the support they’ve given me, and most importantly I want to thank my players for their tremendous effort throughout the years. I’m proud of the success we’ve achieved in winning five major trophies in Seattle, qualifying for the postseason for seven straight seasons. My only disappointment is that we were unable to bring home an MLS Cup to our tremendous fans, who have always been supportive through good times and bad.”

Schmid, 63, came to Seattle from Columbus Crew SC in 2008 on the back of an MLS Cup title in Columbus. Schmid previously claimed the 2002 MLS Cup with the LA Galaxy, and overall his teams have captured 11 major titles.

A two-time MLS Coach of the Year and recent National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee, Schmid just crossed the 500 regular-season MLS match threshold in June of 2016, becoming the first coach in league history to reach that mark.

Schmid’s 228 regular-season victories rank first in MLS history. He is second in postseason wins (26) behind LA’s Bruce Arena (30). Schmid’s final MLS regular-season record with the Sounders is 115-79-56, with the club owning the second-best winning percentage in the league since 2009.

“It’s been a privilege to work with a legend like Sigi and I’ve learned a lot from him. We thank him for his many years of excellent service to this club,” GM Garth Lagerwey said. “He established a foundation that led this franchise to one of the best launches in professional sports history. It will be tough for any coach to match the legacy of success he has established, and it is with a heavy heart that we part ways with such a respected figure.

“We will begin a search to identify who will lead the players for the next several years. Stability and loyalty are hallmarks of this organization and it is incumbent upon us to reset the club and make good long-term decisions about our future in an effort to establish a championship contender.”

Schmetzer has been the Sounders’ top assistant since the club’s MLS inception in 2009.

The Seattle native is one of the Puget Sound soccer community’s most recognizable figures after playing and coaching at four different levels for one of the region’s top professional franchises since 1980.

Prior to joining Schmid’s staff in MLS, Schmetzer helmed the Sounders for seven seasons in the United Soccer League from 2002-2008, guiding the club to USL-1 championships in 2005 and 2007, as well as a pair of Commissioner’s Cups for the league’s best regular-season record and six postseason appearances in seven years.

 


YourThoughts

  • jafabian

    It’s a sad day in Sounders history. Sigi came in with much fan fare and the early success of the club held him to a high standard. The club very much was going for a “win now” approach, loading up on veterans like Fredy Ljunberg and Kasey Keller and building from there. Ultimately something had to give and like the 2001 Mariners who won 116 games but little else afterwards the roster got old and not much was around to replace them. The loss of Oba Martins has had a detrimental effect on the club, IMO. Dempsey and Morris seem to still trying to figure out one another, much like how Gus Williams wasn’t quite the same player when Dennis Johnson left the Sonics. Seeing as how the club never turned over the roster during Sigi’s tenure I question just how much of the blame he should be carried. Is management being too loyal to some players? There’s 13 players over 29 and in soccer with most players 29 is a death knell, much like it is with NFL running backs. Then there’s 12 players under 24. Is there an issue with team chemistry with such a disparity in ages? I don’t know. And I really don’t think this team was going to win their division though their current record is disappointing to be sure.

    What I do know is that I don’t like our cross state rival winning the MLS Cup in a shorter time than the Sounders have been in existence. Or for the Whitecaps to be on top of the Sounders in the standings. Something had to give.

    • Kirkland

      Schmid’s tenure certainly has to be in the top of all Seattle pro coaching jobs. The worst season coming in the franchise’s eighth, not early, is astonishing. And I still believe that only the asinine two-game playoff format kept the 2014 team from winning MLS Cup; they were better than LA and would’ve beaten New England in the final.

      I agree that management has a lot to do with Schmid’s troubles this season, with Martin’s defection and the sales of Yedlin and, heck, Andy Rose. Sigi also had trouble switching from his preferred 4-4-2 to a 4-4-3, one season would’ve been fairer.

      If there’s a glimmer of hope in the coaching change, look down south; Portland barely snuck into the playoffs last year, but took advantage of that stupid two-game format to win the Cup. Stranger things have happened.