Brian Schmetzer is savoring his latest MLS Cup win, and who could blame him?
In a wide-ranging discussion on the "Winging it with Zakuani" podcast with Steve Zakuani earlier this month, the Seattle Sounders head coach admitted he delights in confounding the experts after leading his side to their second MLS Cup win in four years this season.
"It does feel good when I see the experts struggling to explain why we win," Schmetzer said. "I take a little bit of joy in that. They can’t figure our team. If you can’t figure our team out, that’s not my problem. That’s your problem."
The head coach reiterated the people (and animals) that come first in his life in terms of earning respect.
"In many ways, the notoriety or lack thereof that I find myself in, it really doesn’t matter. Because I have the respect of my wife, my dog. I have the respect of my assistant coaches which means a lot," he said.
Schmetzer may have been in a jovial mood after the latest triumph, but he admitted work is already underway to make sure Seattle don't stumble out of the gate in Concacaf Champions League play early next year.
"I’ve told everybody in this entire building, this is going to be different. What I’ve learned from the changeover from 2016-17 that’s going to be implemented from 2019-20 is we are going to find ways to get better," Schmetzer explained.
"We’re going to go down to Mexico for the final phase of preseason next year and we’re going to be ready. Because I felt like from 2016 to 2017, those were valuable lessons for me," he added.
In their last trip to the CCL, in 2018, the Sounders beat Salvadoran outfit Santa Tecla in the opening round, although that came at a cost, with star attacker Jordan Morris tearing his ACL and missing the entire 2018 MLS season.
But the Sounders next came up against Chivas, who would go on to win the tournament under Matias Almeyda, and Schmetzer characterized the second leg in Guadalajara, after the Sounders won the first leg 1-0, as a "disaster."
And with the benefit of hindsight, and a dedication to working on his craft, Schmetzer admitted he is more ready for the rigors of defending the MLS Cup title this time around.
"So 2016 was, in many ways it was a blur for me. I got the job and we were winning, and all of the sudden we won a championship. And after we won, after the final in 2016, it was like, what do we do now? I just didn’t know."
The lesson for the boss? Keep everyone engaged and part of the unit, since you never know when you'll need to count on them.
"I learned from [my first year as head coach in this stint] that you couldn’t split the group. The group has to just be one, it has to be joined together and all the players have to be ready," he said.