Brian Schmetzer remembered the exchange like it was yesterday. Sitting in a Starbucks, over a coffee or two, the up-and-coming coach, then in charge of the USL pre-MLS Seattle Sounders, picked the brain of legendary Sigi Schmid, then in charge of the LA Galaxy.
They didn’t know it at the time, but it would be a moment of American soccer history.
Schmetzer recalled the story not for a trip down memory lane, but when the subject of hiring Freddy Juarez as an assistant coach came up.
“I thought that was great. It was a good moment for me, and so maybe I'm trying to repay that kindness,” Schmetzer said. “Maybe I'm just a nice guy, maybe I just like to talk to soccer. I mean, I don't know. It's probably a combination of all those things.”
“Freddy's a humble guy, nice guy. He's going to fit in great,” Schmetzer said. “Who doesn't like a guy who does everything for the team, help the team, help the players, help the coaches. He's got experience. What's not to like?”
Juarez recalled a similar experience with Schmetzer when he was named interim Real Salt Lake coach in August 2019, a position that became full-time four months later.
“I've reached out to him in the past to ask for advice when I got the job,” Juarez said. “There was always some text exchanges or this past offseason I contacted him about managing players and scenarios. He's someone that, again, from afar … you listen to the interviews and you're like he's well-spoken and speaks very highly after games and all that. It was just somebody for me that was easy to reach out to and he always gave me the time.”
The hiring makes complete sense for Schmetzer, who lost assistant coaches Gonzalo Pineda and Djimi Traore in recent weeks. Pineda has since become the Atlanta United head coach, while Traore left for an opportunity in Europe.
But why was it right for Juarez, who had RSL in a playoff position when he parted ways with the club on August 27?
“That was the biggest thing, the challenge, and am I going to go somewhere where I can continue to learn because there's so much to learn,” Juarez said. “Sometimes you're at a place for a long time that you feel like you need maybe something else to continue to grow if you want to get to where you want to get.”