Since taking over in 2016, Brian Schmetzer has led Sounders FC to the MLS Cup Final in four of his first five seasons (2016, 2017, 2019, 2020). They include a pair of championship wins over Toronto FC in 2016 and 2019, the latter of which came in front of 69,274 fans at CenturyLink Field – a record crowd for a soccer game in Washington State. Through the 2020 season, Sounders FC’s 235 regular season points under Schmetzer are more than any other team in MLS, resulting in five appearances in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, four of which as a top-two seed out of the Western Conference. His 15 postseason wins are already tied for third all-time in league history with Bob Bradley and Dominic Kinnear, trailing only Sigi Schmid and Bruce Arena, while his postseason winning percentage of .726 is first all-time. Under Schmetzer’s leadership, Sounders FC is 44-9-15 at home in regular season play, as well as a perfect 12-0-0 postseason mark at Lumen Field.
After leading Sounders FC to one of the most improbable comebacks in MLS history, Schmetzer was named the club’s second-ever Head Coach on November 2, 2016. Upon assuming the interim manager role on July 26, 2016 following the departure of Schmid, Seattle sat in ninth place in the Western Conference with a 6-12-2 record. Under Schmetzer, Sounders FC finished the season with an 8-2-4 record and a fourth-place finish, becoming the first team in MLS history to make the MLS Cup Playoffs after having 20 or fewer points through the first 20 matches of the season. He is the first coach in MLS history to lead his team to the MLS Cup title after assuming the Head Coach position midseason.
In his first full season as Sounders FC’s Head Coach, Schmetzer led Sounders FC to another great season in 2017. After finishing tied atop the Western Conference with Portland in the regular season, the Rave Green cruised through the Western Conference playoffs and advanced to the club’s second consecutive MLS Cup, this time falling to Toronto FC 2-0 at BMO Field. In 2018, he led Sounders FC to its record 10th consecutive postseason appearance after going 14-2-1 in the second half of the campaign, good for 2.53 points per game, the highest half-season average in league history, before ultimately falling to the Timbers in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Schmetzer led the Rave Green to new heights with the club’s second MLS Cup title in 2019, this time at home in front of a record crowd at Lumen Field. After a decisive 3-1 road win over Supporters’ Shield winners LAFC in the Western Conference Final, Sounders FC faced Toronto FC for a third time for the league championship. Schmetzer prevailed in the rubber-match against Greg Vanney and Toronto, earning a 3-1 win before celebrating in front of the Sounders faithful.
Sounders FC returned to the MLS Cup Final in 2020 following an unprecedented season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout multiple suspensions of play, the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando and an unorthodox match schedule in the fall, Schmetzer guided Seattle to a consistent 11-5-6 record, the second seed in the Western Conference and a conference-best plus-21 goal differential. After an impressive run through the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, Seattle ultimately fell to Columbus Crew SC in the MLS Cup Final at MAPFRE Stadium.
A longtime Sounders FC assistant and former USL Sounders manager, Schmetzer served as Schmid’s Top Assistant Coach in from 2008-2016. He is one of the Puget Sound soccer community’s most recognizable and respected figures after playing and coaching for the region’s top professional franchises since 1980.
Schmetzer served seven seasons as the Head Coach of the Sounders’ United Soccer League’s First Division club from 2002-2008 before making the jump to MLS. He guided Seattle to USL-1 championships in 2005 and 2007, and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinal advancements in 2007 and 2008.
Schmetzer has 16 years of coaching experience and a 15-year background playing at the professional level. He was a member of six championship teams during that span. In addition to the two USL championships, his teams also twice won the Commissioner’s Cup for the league’s best record (2002, 2007), while also qualifying for the playoffs six of seven years. He was chosen USL-1 Coach of the Year in 2002 after going 23-4-1. The Sounders were league runners-up in 2004. His overall regular season record in the USL era was 100-57-41.
Previously, he was assistant to former United States National Team defender Fernando Clavijo with the Seattle SeaDogs from 1996-1997. Seattle won the Continental Indoor Soccer League title in 1997.
A Seattle native, Schmetzer was coached by his father, Walt, as a youth. His team won seven out of 10 state youth championships. He signed with the Sounders’ North American Soccer League franchise following his graduation from Seattle’s Nathan Hale High School in 1980. He played three seasons as a midfielder for Seattle before going to Tulsa for the final NASL season in 1984.
Schmetzer signed with the San Diego Sockers in 1984 and played seven seasons in the Major Indoor Soccer League with San Diego (1984-1988), Tacoma (1988-1990) and St. Louis (1990-1991). He was a member of San Diego’s MISL championship teams in 1985, 1986 and 1988. He returned to Seattle for the Sounders’ inaugural A-League season in 1994 before completing his playing career with the SeaDogs from 1995-1996.
In 1985, Schmetzer played on loan to FC Seattle, scoring twice in a 2-1 friendly win over Brazil’s Santos. While with Tacoma and FC Seattle, Schmetzer’s teammates included younger brothers Andy and Walter.
Schmetzer and his wife Kristine have six children and two grandchildren between them.