TUKWILA, Wash. – The Seattle Sounders’ upcoming Western Conference clash with the LA Galaxy at StubHub Center on Saturday (10 pm ET; ESPN, ESPN Deportes in US | MLS LIVE in Canada) has quite the new subplot.
The Galaxy, of course, announced on Thursday that they had fired head coach Curt Onalfo and replaced him with longtime MLS stalwart Sigi Schmid. That means Saturday’s match will pit the Sounders against the same coach who roamed the sidelines in Seattle for the franchise’s first seven-plus MLS seasons until he was relieved of his duties last July.
Asked about that development after Seattle’s practice at Starfire Sports Complex on Thursday, Sounders head coach and former longtime Schmid assistant Brian Schmetzer said he was happy to see his old boss get another shot – but added that his mentality quickly shifted to figuring out how to beat him.
“It’s big news,” Schmetzer said. “Certainly we all felt that Sig was going to get a shot somewhere. I was thinking, of course, getting right into competitive mode. I was like, ‘OK, well, Sig knows a lot about me but I know a lot about him. He knows about my players, but I know his style.’ But it’ll be interesting.
“It’s tough that a guy had to lose a job for someone else to get a job but that’s life in our business. It gives Sig another chance to get up on the horse. …He’s going to be up for the challenge, I’m going to be up for the challenge."
Sounders veteran Brad Evans played for Schmid for as long as anyone, dating back to both of their days with Columbus Crew SC before both made the move to Seattle before the club’s inaugural 2009 MLS season.
While Evans admitted it might be strange to see Schmid on an opposing sideline, he said that his team’s focus should be more on how to handle what could be some motivated on-field opponents that will be looking to prove their worth to their new coach.
“I got a lot of texts this morning: ‘Can you talk to Sigi for me?’ Everyone wants to go to LA,” Evans said. “Credit to him for sticking out. I guess the Galaxy figured they had to go a different way, so he’s the closest local obvious choice to fill in.
“It’ll be a difficult team to play against. Anytime you bring in a new coach, no matter who it is, your team is up for the task. Everybody’s proving that they belong on the field and that they deserve to be there.”
Coaching storylines aside, Evans said, Saturday’s match could also act as a springboard for the Sounders as they look to continue their recent ascent up the Western Conference table.
The first step to doing so would be procuring three points against the Schmid-led Galaxy, who are just 1-6-3 at StubHub this season.
“For me it’s not just another game,” said Evans. “But it’s one that I need to perform well. We need three points. If we win two or three games, now we’re looking below us at the rest of the pack if results go our way.
“It’s an exciting time. Big news, happy for [Schmid]. But more importantly, it would be nice to beat him.”