Lots of folks can share a Sigi Schmid story. Here is Brian Schmetzer’s:
It’s just about seven years ago. Adrian Hanauer had just hired Schmetzer to coach the USL Sounders. Hanauer had no previous experience as a general manager and Schmetzer’s professional coaching career consisted of a summer and a half with the Seattle SeaDogs indoor team.
Hanauer and Schmetzer begin their crash course of managerial education at the MLS Combine in Florida. They work the sidelines, shaking hands and introducing themselves.
Schmetzer knew a few of the MLS coaches well. To others he was a complete stranger. “Some guys were good to us,” he recalls. “Some guys gave us lip service and some just basically ignored us.”
But not Schmid. As coach of L.A., the reigning CONCACAF and U.S. Open Cup champion, Schmid was big time. The ruler of the Galaxy easily could’ve given the shine to the Seattleites.
A rookie head coach, Schmetzer had more questions than could be accommodated in a quick conversation.
“So I say, ‘Hey, Sigi, want to have a cup of coffee?’ And he said, ‘Sure.’”
The cup was probably refilled more than a few times. “I asked a bunch of questions, so we had a long conversation,” Schmetzer recalls. “I remember asking about how to handle a veteran since he had Carlos Ruiz.
“Sigi took the time to do it. I wouldn’t have gotten that from the others. And Sigi’s been great from that time on.”
One German Guy Says to the Other
So now these three guys of German ancestry–Hanauer, Schmetzer and Schmid–form a good portion of Sounders FC hierarchy. It’s early, yet already they seem to be of one mind.
“Sigi told me to just be myself,” says Schmetzer. “He says he’s going to be honest with me, and he wants me to be honest with him, to tell him what I think.
“I think I’m a pretty good judge of people and a decent judge of players, knowing what it takes to play at the MLS level,” he says. “After all the opinions are heard, it will be his decision and he will make the right one.
“We all want this team to succeed. That’s the absolute goal for both of us.”
Beginning with Jimmy McAlister back in the mid-Seventies, it seemed every kid around the local fields wanted to play for the Sounders when they grew up. That goes for Schmetzer and even Michelle Akers.
McAlister was the first homegrown lad to live the dream. The likes of Peterson, Stock, Schmetzer, Fry and Crook soon followed suit.
Back then the attraction was mostly provincial. Local kids had local heroes, and in time they became heroes themselves.
“I doubt any kid from Chicago or Dallas dreamed of becoming a Sounder, but we did” says Schmetzer, who hails from the Lake City neighborhood. “Back then the Sounders’ following was grassroots. Now with TV and the internet, people from all over are getting information and getting excited about Sounders FC.”
The team may not have played a single match, but according to Schmetzer, the Seattle MLS franchise has clearly generated some widespread buzz.
Just as Schmetzer was thrilled to be signed straight out of Nathan Hale High School in 1980, there are now players around the nation who feel that Sounders FC is something special.
“Sigi was telling me about his phone conversation with Stephen King (who was selected from Chicago during the expansion draft),” Schmetzer shares. “This young man has probably never been to our city before. But he was telling Sigi how excited he was to become part of this franchise. How cool is that?”
Turn On, Tune In
Saturday, Dec. 27
4:30 a.m. (PT), Setanta, Rangers v Celtic
Why Watch: Fado opens the doors early for Old Firm; Near-perfect at Ibox, Gers looking for 2nd win over Bhoys to close gap
Sunday, Dec. 28
4 a.m. (PT), Setanta, Newcastle v Liverpool
Why Watch: Both teams are unbeaten in last six and playing 2nd match in three days
6 a.m. (PT), Setanta, Arsenal v Portsmouth
Why Watch: Cesc-less Gunners end ’08 with a Pompey lacking road punch
6 a.m. (PT), FSC, Fulham v Chelsea
Why Watch: Decent derby matchup: Dempsey & Fulham formidable at home, Blues are warriors on road
8 a.m., (PT), FSC, Blackburn v Manchester City
Why Watch: Two sides in the relegation zone with Rovers leaking most goals in EPL
Monday, Dec. 29
12 p.m. (PT), Setanta, Manchester United v Middlesbrough
Why Watch: Celebrating the world champions home, where United has won 6 straight
Tuesday, Dec. 30
12 p.m. (PT), Setanta, Hull City v Aston Villa
Why Watch: Friedel’s Villa is the hottest club going, and could go higher than third
Friday, Jan. 2
12 p.m. (PT), Setanta, Tottenham v Wigan
Why Watch: FA Cup third round opens with one of three all-EPL pairings
Kasey Keller was among the 29 current and former pro players who completed a nine-day U.S. Soccer National “B” License coaching course in the L.A. area from Dec. 10-18. Also attending were several USL Sounders: Taylor Graham, Danny Jackson, Roger Levesque and Kevin Sakuda…Are you the next Mr. (Ms.) Woo? Washington Youth Soccer and Star 1 Soccer present an opportunity for young players to hone their individual ball skills, compete against players from all over the state and earn certificates and prizes. The Star 1 Soccer Skills Challenges will bring finalists to Qwest Field and a Sounders FC match, with the top players vying for a chance to win an all inclusive trip to an English Premier League game. Visit the Star 1 Soccer website (www.star1soccer.com) learn more…There will be W-League soccer at Starfire again next season. The Sounders women’s team has been purchased by Mike Jennings, owner of the Tacoma Tide PDL club. The name of the seven-year-old team may change but home games, starting in May, will remain in Tukwila.