“I feel a lot better than [LAFC manager] Bob [Bradley],” Schmetzer told ESPN’s Sebastian Salazar.
And he had good reason to. The Sounders came into Banc of California Stadium with a clear gameplan, and Nicolas Lodeiro and Raul Ruidiaz worked their magic in the final third. They ended the game with three unanswered goals, booking the club’s third trip to MLS Cup in the last four years. Watch the interview here:
But Schmetzer sympathized with the emotions LAFC experienced, after he saw his Sounders team lose on their home field just a year ago. In LAFC's case, they set the single-season record for points (72), they were runaway winners of the Supporters’ Shield and Carlos Vela finished with an astounding 34 goals and 15 assists, setting several personal records along the way.
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“I mean, one team has to celebrate,” Schmetzer explained. “We did it last year. We had Portland celebrating on our home field, so I know what Bob is going through and it’s not a good feeling. We used that as motivation for this playoff run this year. I get it, it’s winners and losers and these playoff formats are great for the league.
“I’m just so proud of these guys out there and the people up there. Their tactics were right, their effort was right, their mentality was right and they deserved to win the game.”
So, how exactly did Seattle pull it off? Schmetzer began with a veiled comment directed at a preview column on MLSsoccer.com, then he quickly pointed to his team’s resilience. As they did in Round One at home against FC Dallas, the No. 2 seed dug deep in tough moments to advance. This time, it was responding to an early LAFC goal.
“They never quit,” Schmetzer said. “We went down 1-0 to the best and, look, they had the best regular season ever. This is a tremendous team. Bob is a great coach, but we came out, went down a goal and came back and scored three in their home. You guys tell me if my team deserves the credit."
After Schmetzer's interview with Salazar, broadcast cameras caught the Sounders' coach in a passionate conversation with Bradley. Watch it here:
Specifics are somewhat murky from the post-final-whistle exchange, and Schmetzer was tight-lipped after the match when asked about specifics.
"Bob's a competitive guy and so am I," Schmetzer said. "He was very respectful to me and I hope he feels that I was respectful to him, because he's a great coach and I would never, ever disparage any coach in this league."
The Matchday Central crew discussed Schmetzer's comments and the Sounders' performance with long-time MLSer Dax McCarty:
Ari Liljenwall contributed to this article.