Sigi Schmid has coached in 439 career MLS matches, but the last three felt particularly agonizing for him. In those three matches, he stood on 199 wins, on the cusp of yet another milestone in his historic coaching career.
On Sunday, that seemingly elusive win came as Sounders FC topped the Houston Dynamo, 2-0, in front of 50,276 in attendance at CenturyLink Field, giving Schmid his 200th career MLS victory.
“I’ve been coaching a long time. It’s fantastic to finally get it. I was starting to wonder if we were going to get it,” said Schmid. “It’s a reflection of having a lot of great players that have played for me. It’s great if this is the year that I can get 200 and it’s part of a bigger success at the end of the year.”
Throughout his career as a college and professional coach, Schmid has coached great players. They have helped him not only reach the 200-win milestone, but also helped him reach championship heights at UCLA, where he won College Cups in 1985, 1990 and 1997. He has since added MLS Cup titles in 2002 and 2008.
Over the course of the last few weeks, some of his current and former players offered their praises to the all-time MLS coaching king.
Sounders FC midfielder Brad Evans, who has played for Schmid since 2007, his first year as a professional:
"He always finds a way to win and he always finds the players that he wants and fit into his system. Any team that I’ve ever been on with him aside from 2007, we’ve always had a winning season. It’s just been successful and that’s a credit to his vision and the way that he wants a game to be played, the style of player that he wants to be on the field and getting a good mix of guys. He has always found a way to do that, no matter what team. You can’t say enough. It’s a tremendous milestone and I don’t think anybody will touch that for a while.”
Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Brad Friedel, who played under Schmid at UCLA from 1990-1992:
“I wouldn’t be sitting here if it wasn’t for Sigi, let’s put it that way. I played every other sport that you could play as an American kid. I was at a small tournament and Sigi’s assistant Dean Wurzburger didn’t have a flight until later on in the evening and he came out to the field and saw me there. Sigi came out and saw me in the game and gave me a scholarship. From that point, Sigi always pushed and pushed and pushed me and also pushed coaches to take me into the youth national team set up. We have a mutual respect for one another. I think his track record in MLS and with the university and when he’s been with the youth national team speaks for itself. I can’t say enough good things about Sigi.”
ESPN analyst Alexi Lalas, who played for Schmid at LA Galaxy from 2001-2003:
“I owe Sigi Schmid a lot. He took a chance on me when I was kind of down and out and away from the game. I’d like to think I repaid him. We had a good run together. And I learned a tremendous amount from him. At that point I was about 30 years old and sometimes you think you’ve learned everything. He taught me a lot about how to think about the game when I’m in it and we had some good times. I always enjoyed seeing him coach and being coached by him, even when he screamed and yelled. Actually, that was the most fun, when he screamed and yelled. There is nothing like when you’re getting chewed out by Sigi Schmid. It’s a badge of honor and there are many, many great players that have had that opportunity. While in the moment, it may hurt, when I look back on it, there’s a little smile. I think he looks at players and teams and thinks that every coach will be able to get a certain level. The good coaches are able to find something extra. Whether it’s a little bit extra from a world class player or taking an average player and making them that much better, I think he takes great pride when some of his projects come to fruition. When you look at his track record in terms of the players that he’s nurtured going back to college and the international players he’s brought in, it’s pretty good. Ultimately, he’s got a great eye for talent.”
Former U.S. National Team defender Mike Lapper, who played for Schmid at UCLA from 1988-1991 and was his assistant coach with the Columbus Crew from 2006-2008:
“I wouldn’t be here without him, having participated in all of the things that I did – the Olympics and the World Cup. I think Sigi really molded me at UCLA and got me focused. It was one of those things where we bonded and clicked. He really makes you want to play for him and I think it’s something he brings out in his players even now. When you believe in somebody and you want to play for that person, you change your thought-process and your values. You want to do it for the greater cause, whether it’s him or the team. And he’s such a smart guy. To this day he asks me how my kids are doing and he knows them by name and I think he’s that way with everyone. Those little details really make you fight for him.”
Sam George, who played for Schmid from 1988-1991 at UCLA:
“He always brought out the best in you. When I got to UCLA, we hit it off from the first day. It was always important that I gave everything I had for him and that we had the most success that was possible. It’s the respect that he treats you with, but also the level that he expects you to be at. He lets you know how he feels and where you stand and it makes you want to go to battle for him. It makes you want to win for him. You don’t want to let him down. He was so fair and so honest and showed his faith in you and his trust in you. If you heard him rant, it was him saying that you were letting him down and you didn’t want to let him down. For me, the last 10 years he’s been a father figure for me. You could always talk to him about anything and walk away feeling a bit smarter and a bit better about yourself.”