SEATTLE – Longtime Seattle Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid spoke publicly Thursday for the first time since parting ways with the club he coached for nearly eight years, and he spoke directly to the fans he adored.
Schmid met with a number of Sounders fans at a bar in Pioneer Square just 48 hours after his coaching career in the Emerald City ended, and he fought back tears as he expressed his appreciation for the fans who stuck with him through good times and bad since he took over before the team’s MLS inception in 2009.
“I know we didn’t get the MLS Cup. There’s nothing I wanted to do more than to be involved in a parade going around this city,” Schmid said. “But we won four Open Cups. We won a Supporters’ Shield…
“I had always hoped that I could sort of leave on my own terms when I left here. But it was definitely unique and special and I’ll always remember it. I wish it could have gone on and on.”
Schmid’s 228 regular-season victories rank first in MLS history, and he is currently second in postseason wins (26) behind LA’s Bruce Arena (30). Schmid’s final MLS regular-season record with the Sounders is 115-79-56, with the club owning the second-best winning percentage in the league since 2009.
The Sounders will play their first MLS game without Schmid on the coaching staff against the LA Galaxy at CenturyLink Field on Sunday (1 p.m.; ESPN/KIRO 97.3 FM/El Rey 1360AM).
“Seattle will always have a soft spot in my heart,” he said. “I’ll always be a Sounders fan. Sunday might be tough to watch, if I’m being very honest. But this is the best soccer experience that I’ve been able to be a part of as a coach. It will always be special and always be unique.”
LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena, meanwhile, said this week he would have preferred to see his longtime friend and adversary stay in Seattle, but he respected the decision made by the Sounders.
“I personally think after all the success he’s had there and what he’s brought to that club, I would have loved to, obviously, have seen him stay. I would have thought that he earned that,” Arena said. “[Seattle] need to do what they think is right for their club. I know the ownership group there, the management group. They’re good people. So I think they just felt it was in their best interest. I don’t have to agree with that, but that’s the way it came down.”