Sigi Schmid took the long way home, but 15 years after winning MLS Cup 2002 with the LA Galaxy the Los Angeles resident once again finds himself head coach of his local club.
Much has changed since he last coached the Galaxy in 2004, but what hasn’t is the title-driven culture he helped to create.
“The world changes every day,” said Schmid on a conference call with reporters on Thursday, “and certainly the Galaxy is different from when I first got here. Certainly StubHub [Center] has changed -- my office is bigger -- so I’m happy about that. The thing that has remained with the Galaxy all the way though: In those early years it was a team that wanted to win championships.
“Bruce [Arena] did a great job of reigniting that. My job at this stage is to carry on that, carry on the tradition that was here when I was here and the tradition that Bruce reestablished here and to go forward with it.”
The 64-year-old began his MLS coaching career with the Galaxy in 1999, after nearly 20 years as UCLA men’s soccer head coach. Despite a coaching career that spans four decades, with subsequent title-winning stops in Columbus and Seattle, Schmid has no loss of enthusiasm for the work.
“In terms of doing it for a long time, it’s really because I have three hobbies: I like watching soccer live, I like watching soccer on TV, and I like talking about soccer. So that keeps my enthusiasm going. It’s really that simple,” he said.
That wealth of experience makes him a unique talent in modern American soccer. He takes over a Galaxy club in the midst of a five-game losing streak, sitting 9th place in the Western Conference. His first test will be his previous employer, the Seattle Sounders, on Saturday (10 pm ET | ESPN, ESPN Deportes, MLS LIVE in Canada), but things have moved so quickly that there hasn’t been much anticipation for Schmid.
“Things happened very quickly so it wasn’t anything I anticipated. There’s a lot of calendar events I’ve got to change and flights I have to cancel. The irony of playing against Seattle is certainly a unique situation, it just turned out this way. It doesn’t matter if it’s Seattle or if it’s against someone else, we need to start collecting points.”
He’s only had one training session with his team, but he’s got an idea of what needs to be fixed.
“You watch from afar and it’s never the whole story because you don’t know what’s [happening] on a day-to-day basis. Being able to be on the training field today was very enlightening for me. I think right when you look at the numbers and you look at the statistics in the last series of games the big issue has been goals allowed.
“This team has offensive talent, defensively there’s talent there as well. But we need to be sure we solidify ourselves defensively and give our offense a chance to show what it can do and produce the goals I know it is able to produce.”