Brian Schmetzer - Seattle Sounders

Brian Schmetzer is something of a unique figure in professional sports in that he's coaching the team that he's been affiliated with for much of his adult life.

The Seattle Sounders' head coach signed with his hometown club straight out of high school as a player in 1980, coached the USL iteration of the club for eight seasons and served as an assistant for the MLS side for seven more before assuming his current post. He's also famously a dues-paying member of the club's Emerald City Supporters' group.

All of that is to say, Schmetzer has an extremely close bond with the club's fan base, which led the coach to write a letter to the supporters on the SB Nation site Sounder at Heart published on Monday. In the letter, Schmetzer reflected on the entire 2020 season, from the club's Concacaf Champions League campaign, through the regular season, all the way to the disappointing MLS Cup final defeat to Columbus Crew SC.

Following that defeat, much of the discussion centered around Seattle's starting XI for the contest, which didn't feature veteran stalwarts like Gustav Svensson and Kelvin Leerdam, who had been working their way back to full fitness coming off international duty and injury. Schmetzer explained his reasoning behind those decisions and took responsibility for the way it ultimately played out on the field. 

"What we learned from 2017 was translated into 2020 preparations, but the one thing that sticks out now is we were under pressure in each away final," Schmetzer wrote. "We needed the resolve of 2016, and even in 2019 until things broke with Kelvin’s goal there were tough times to overcome. Versus the Crew I had hoped our possession would see us through until changes could be made, but I was wrong. Starting Gustav, who has shown his toughness even if he would have needed a sub, was hindsight and a lesson to be learned from."

In all, Schmetzer said that he believes that the Crew were deserved winners on the day and credited counterpart Caleb Porter with having his team well prepared for the match.

"I accept the success and failure of the club, and with that the result in the 2020 final," he added. "It is my job to give players the tools and the confidence to be successful. When the “D” word [dynasty] started to surface, we did our best to dampen this talk; after Darlington Nagbe and Pedro Santos were ruled out we doubled down on that messaging. Columbus had two more reasons to give maximum effort and play free. A game plan was made, coaches and players believed they could win. But the dynasty tag lingered somewhere in the background as motivation for our opponent. As much it pains me to say, Caleb prepared his team well, and were deserved victors on that day."

Read Schmetzer's full letter on Sounder at Heart here.