After nearly eight years at the helm, Sigi Schmid is out as manager of the Seattle Sounders.
The only head coach in the club’s MLS history, Schmid and the Sounders mutually agreed to part ways on Tuesday after Seattle failed to register a single shot on goal in their 3-0 loss at Sporting Kansas City on Sunday. Long-time assistant coach Brian Schmetzer will take over the team on an interim basis. Schmetzer led the Sounders from 2002-2008 in the USL.
Seattle are currently in ninth-place in the Western Conference with a 6-12-2 record, 10 points behind Vancouver for the sixth and final playoff spot. They’ve scored just 20 goals in their 20 matches, third-fewest in all of MLS.
The all-time winningest coach in MLS history, Schmid guided Seattle to the playoffs in each of the club’s first seven seasons in MLS and led the Sounders to four US Open Cup titles and the 2014 Supporters’ Shield. He was never able to guide Seattle to MLS Cup, however, failing to lead the Sounders to an appearance in the title game in his seven full seasons in the Pacific Northwest.
"I want to thank Seattle Sounders FC for the opportunity to lead this club over the past eight years, with particular gratitude to Adrian Hanauer, Joe Roth and the rest of the club's ownership group. I'd also like to thank my coaches and technical staff for the support they've given me, and most importantly I want to thank my players for their tremendous effort throughout the years," Schmid said in a statement released by the club. "I'm proud of the success we've achieved in winning five major trophies in Seattle, qualifying for the postseason for seven-straight seasons. My only disappointment is that we were unable to bring home an MLS Cup to our tremendous fans, who have always been supportive through good times and bad. In closing, I want to thank the Sounders FC organization, the club's fans and the city of Seattle for this amazing run."
Schmid joined Seattle in December 2008, months ahead of the club’s inaugural MLS match and shortly after he led Columbus Crew SC to the 2008 MLS Cup title. Prior to his time in Columbus, Schmid won the 2002 MLS Cup with the LA Galaxy. A two-time MLS Coach of the Year and a recent National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee, Schmid managed his 500th regular season match in June, becoming the first coach in league history to reach the milestone.
His 228 regular season wins are the most in MLS history, and he is currently second in postseason wins behind LA manager Bruce Arena, who has 30 playoff victories. Schmid leaves Seattle with a 115-79-56 regular season record, good for the second-best winning percentage in MLS since 2009.
"Sigi Schmid has been an invaluable member of Sounders FC since the club's MLS launch, leading our organization to numerous trophies and a consistent winning culture for seven seasons," Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer said in the statement. "Sigi departs the club with our utmost respect and gratitude for his years of service. Ultimately the club and Sigi agreed that a change was needed at this time, but Sigi's legacy will always be a part of our history. He has my sincere appreciation for all that he committed to our team and community."
Schmid has managed an MLS team in 17 of the league’s 21 seasons, and in all but one year since he was hired as Galaxy manager in 1999. Prior to his time in MLS, Schmid won three national titles at his alma mater, UCLA. He also twice served as head coach of the United States U-20 National Team, most recently in 2005 at the FIFA World Championships.
Schmid has come under fire in recent years for failing to lead Seattle to MLS Cup. He faced a significant amount of backlash from portions of the club’s fan base this season, as his team struggled to find the back of the net following the February transfer of Obafemi Martins to the Chinese Super League.
"It's been a privilege to work with a legend like Sigi and I've learned a lot from him. We thank him for his many years of excellent service to this club," Sounders GM and president of soccer Garth Lagerwey said in the statement. "He established a foundation that led this franchise to one of the best launches in professional sports history. It will be tough for any coach to match the legacy of success he has established, and it is with a heavy heart that we part ways with such a respected figure.
"Brian Schmetzer will become our interim head coach and we will begin a search to identify who will lead the players for the next several years. Stability and loyalty are hallmarks of this organization and it is incumbent upon us to reset the club and make good long-term decisions about our future in an effort to establish a championship contender."
Schmetzer’s first match as interim head coach will be on Sunday, when the Sounders host the LA Galaxy at CenturyLink Field (4 pm ET; ESPN in the US, MLS LIVE in Canada). The full stadium will be open for the match.
A Seattle-native, the 53-year-old Schmetzer served as Sounders head coach for seven years during the club’s USL days, guiding the club to two league titles. He’s been the team’s top assistant since Seattle moved into MLS in 2009. A former Sounders player, Schmetzer filled in for Schmid as head coach in four MLS regular season matches, accumulating a 3-1-0 record.