TUKWILA, Wash. — There’s something about big, round numbers that tends to draw attention.
When Sigi Schmid steps onto the sidelines for the Seattle Sounders game against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday (11 pm ET, NBCSN, TSN & RDS), he’ll become the first MLS head coach to reach 400 career games.
While that may be a neat factoid, Schmid is much more concerned about a more seemingly innocuous number.
“I always want to get the ‘W’, whether it’s win No. 180, whether it’s 182 or 183, it doesn’t matter what it is,” said Schmid, who enters the game with a 179-123-97 career record.
Even if Schmid doesn’t think the milestone game is particularly important, he did take some time this week to reminisce about how he got here.
Despite being one of the top college coaches in the country at the time the league launched in 1996, Schmid did not get his first MLS job until 1999, when he was hired by the LA Galaxy five matches into the season. When asked about his first game, Schmid said one memory stood out.
“The only lineup change I made in my first game was I benched Ezra,” Schmid said, referring to current Sounders assistant coach Ezra Hendrickson. “I started Paul Caligiari. We beat San Jose and Paul scored the winning goal as a right back. Three weeks later after watching Ezra in practice I sort of said, ‘Wait a second. He’s a little better than I thought.’ I put him back in the lineup, and he was never out of my lineup after that.”
Schmid led the Galaxy to the MLS Cup final in his first year, to a CONCACAF Champions Cup title in 2000, to the U.S. Open Cup title in 2001, and to a Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup double in 2002. After being fired in 2004 -- while the Galaxy were in first place -- Schmid eventually went on to win his second career double in 2008, with the Columbus Crew. He left Columbus to take charge of the Sounders in 2009, and in four seasons in Seattle he’s added three U.S. Open Cup titles to his haul.
Although Schmid is clearly proud of his longevity, it’s those smaller numbers that motivate him.
“I’d rather the next goal I get to is 200 wins and the next goal is another MLS Cup,” he said. “Those are goals I like more. If 500 [games] comes that’s great, but it’s not as important as getting wins and getting trophies.”