LOS ANGELES – When Sigi Schmid left the Seattle Sounders in July after seven and a half seasons in charge, he arguably became the hottest coaching free agent in MLS.
And Schmid, whose ties to Southern California run deep, was linked to MLS expansion side LAFC almost immediately.
But is that connection substantiated? LAFC executive vice president of soccer operations John Thorrington remained tight-lipped regarding rumors tying the club to Schmid at this stage.
“Much of that information should remain privileged in terms of where we’re at with [the coaching search],” Thorrington told assembled reporters at LAFC’s stadium groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday.
“I will say this: I know Sigi, I know him very well, I know better than anyone the strengths he would bring to an organization,” he continued. “I have always really, really respected him as a man, as a person, as a coach. He beat me a few too many times for me not to have respect for him as a coach, so I’m well aware of the reasons that you would connect those dots.”
While Thorrington would not tip his hand regarding Schmid’s potential candidacy, Schmid himself recently expressed interest in the job, as he noted it could be a “good situation.” Schmid grew up in Southern California and made a name for himself as the head coach at UCLA before forging an impressive career with three MLS teams – including the LA Galaxy – becoming the career wins leader in the league in the process.
For all the speculation regarding Schmid, Thorrington revealed that there has been considerable outside interest from coaches “from around the world.”
“I knew there would be a strong level of interest, but I have been pleasantly surprised at the caliber of coach and player who would be excited and jump at the chance to join us,” he said.
When asked when the expansion side plan to have a head coach in place, Thorrington noted they need a coach by January 2018. But he would not offer a more precise timeline for the hiring, saying external forces – such as the future LAFC coach’s possible employment in the run-up to 2018 – could potentially delay an announcement for contractual reasons.
And while he admitted LAFC were targeting specific players, Thorrington, who experienced an MLS expansion season firsthand as a player with the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2011, granted the process of putting together a winning expansion team from year one is a difficult task.
Still, he laid out a similar blueprint for finding players to join LAFC’s first team.
“I’d say the coach [search] is a bit further forward, but the player conversations [are] much of the same: Identifying the right key targets, the cornerstones that we want to build around,” Thorrington explained. “And again, the types of players that have expressed in-bound interest, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by, and it’s indicative of this story that LAFC here is different.”