TUKWILA, Wash. – Sigi Schmid won an MLS Supporters Shield, four U.S. Open Cups, and never missed the playoffs as head coach of the Seattle Sounders. But the team and Schmid are parting ways.
The Sounders announced Tuesday that Schmid’s run as the only coach in the franchise’s MLS era has come to an end. Longtime Seattle assistant Brian Schmetzer is taking over immediately as interim head coach.
“We agreed it was a reasonable time to part ways,” Sounders majority owner Adrian Hanauer said during a news conference. “That takes absolutely nothing away from what he has done for this club. He won a bunch of trophies for us, he won a lot of games, he had a lot of success. But the results just weren’t there this year.”
Schmid joined the Sounders in 2008 after winning an MLS Cup title with the Columbus Crew. He also won an MLS title with the LA Galaxy in 2002.
“I want to thank Seattle Sounders FC for the opportunity to lead this club over the past eight years, with particular gratitude to Adrian Hanauer, Joe Roth, and the rest of the club’s ownership group,” Schmid said in a statement released by the team. “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 was 115-79-56 with the Sounders and led them to seven consecutive MLS Cup playoff appearances, and his 228 regular-season wins rank first in league history. But Seattle has struggled this season, sitting in ninth place in the Western Conference with a 6-12-2 record. On Sunday, the Sounders lost 3-0 at Sporting Kansas City, and managed just one shot in the game.
“The results obviously have not been great, and the performance in Kansas City was maybe a low point,” Hanauer said. “There’s no magic stopwatch on this that tells us when the right time is.”
Schmetzer has been affiliated with the Sounders at various times as a player or a coach since signing out of high school with the then-North American Soccer League franchise in 1980. Prior to their joining MLS in 2009, he was head coach of the USL Sounders from 2002-08, winning league championships in 2005 and 2007.
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” said Schmetzer, who was named Schmid’s top assistant in December 2008, just six days after Schmid was hired. “You lose a guy you have a lot of respect for. But at the end of the day, it’s an opportunity to try to impart some pride back in the club and try to make sure we win games.”
Schmetzer’s first game in charge will be on Sunday when Seattle hosts the Galaxy. The Sounders will start that game 10 points out of the last Western Conference playoff spot.
“We’ve not given up on making the playoffs, and help is on the way,” general manager and president of soccer Garth Lagerway said. “We’re optimistic that we can change this thing positively and move forward this year.”
The help that Lagerway, Hanauer, and Schmetzer all mentioned was Nicolas Lodeiro. The native of Uruguay, an attacking midfielder, played most recently for Argentina’s Boca Juniors club, and has 42 caps for the Uruguay national team.
“It’s no secret, though it’s not necessarily the worst-kept secret we’ve had, but Nicolas landed at the airport today,” Hanauer said. “We have some i’s to dot and some t’s to cross, but we fully anticipate him joining our squad.”
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