SEATTLE – There will be no more interim tag for Brian Schmetzer.
After taking over as coach of the Seattle Sounders in July with that caveat attached, the Sounders officially announced they have their man on Wednesday, unveiling Schmetzer as the team’s permanent hire for the position at their Alliance Annual Business Meeting for season-ticket holders at CenturyLink Field.
The crowd of onlookers erupted into a raucous round of applause and gave a standing ovation after majority owner Adrian Hanauer made the announcement, the culmination of Seattle’s remarkable midseason turnaround that has seen the Sounders go from playoff afterthought to sitting on the brink of a Western Conference Championship appearance.
“Brian is the best fit you could possibly have for this organization,” Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey told reporters following the event. “At the end of the day, he earned it, man. He earned it. I mean, he was lights out. He did a great job. He earned this job. I’ve enjoyed working with him and I look forward to continuing to work with him.”
Schmetzer, 54, is a Seattle-area native and has deep-rooted connections to the Sounders that span across more than three decades, beginning with the start of his playing career with the club in 1980.
“I started off as a player here when I was 17,” he said on Wednesday. “And if I could have scripted a life for myself, I don’t know if along the way I would have gone through the chapters as they kind of played out.
“But certainly, coaching the team that you first started with, that was your first professional club as a player, that’s a big deal.”
Since Schmetzer took over following the departure of longtime head coach Sigi Schmid on July 26, the Sounders have gone 10-2-4, including their two playoff victories over Sporting Kansas City and FC Dallas.
Hanauer said that the club considered waiting until after the season was over to make the announcement as opposed to doing it in the middle of the playoffs. But he added that the results the club has achieved under Schmetzer meant there was no need to wait.
“It was pretty obvious early on that he had garnered the support of the locker room and the guys and had everybody in a boat rowing the same direction,” Hanauer said. “The results followed. We got together and said ‘Hey, if this thing goes a certain way, why are we going to wait?’
The move, while not unexpected, eliminates any uncertainty surrounding Schmetzer’s future as the Sounders look to continue their playoff push. Seattle take a 3-0 aggregate lead into the second leg of their Western Conference semifinal matchup with FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium on Sunday (9 pm ET, FS1, FOX Deportes, FOXSportsGO, TSN2).
“We’re happy as a staff that this has solidified itself and there’s not the interim tag anymore,” Schmetzer said. “It does give us a little bit more sense of closure.
“But we know that we still have a job to do and what’s what we’re going to do.”