Sigi Schmid has vivid memories of watching Walt Chyzowych play for the Philadelphia Ukranians when Schmid was just 11 years old.
He watched the great striker fill up the nets for the American Soccer League club and, years later when Schmid was an aspiring coach, learned from him at various coaching clinics. When the US National Team was looking to add someone to their coaching staff, it was Chyzowych that recommended Schmid. Sure enough, Schmid was then included as an assistant coach in 1991 at the World University Games and went on to work with Bora Milutonivic on the 1994 World Cup team.
All thanks to Walt Chyzowych.
On Saturday at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s annual national convention, Schmid was honored with the Walt Chyzowych Memorial Fund Lifetime Achievement Award for 2011, joining an elite group of coaches who have earned the award through their incredible impacts on soccer in America.
“Walt was a guy who was at the forefront of US Soccer for a lot of years at the coaching schools,” said Schmid, who coached against Chyzowych’s Wake Forest teams while he was at UCLA. “To be honored with his award is a little bit special.”
In 1994, Chyzowych passed away at the age of 57 and since 1996, the award has been presented to some of the greatest names in American soccer, including Bob Gansler, Anson Dorrance and Bruce Arena.
“They’ve accomplished a lot more than I’ve accomplished and to be included with those guys is certainly very rewarding,” said Schmid humbly.
A look at the numbers shows that Schmid belongs among those elite names. He is the all-time winningest coach in MLS history with 139 career victories. This on top of his 322 wins while a head coach at UCLA from 1980-1999. Throw in three NCAA titles, two MLS Cup titles, two MLS Supporters’ Shields, three Lamar Hunt US Open Cup titles and a CONCACAF Champions’ Cup and it goes without saying that Schmid is among the most successful coaches of his generation. In 1996, he was even elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
“Sigi Schmid is recognized as a coach who thoroughly prepares his team while also focusing on player development. He is a perfect choice to be recognized for his contributions to the American game in the spirit of one of his mentors, Walt Chyzowych,” said Ralph Lundy, Executive Director of WCMF, noting Schmid’s achievement of coaching the Sounders FC to consecutive Open Cup titles, marking the first time that had occurred in 27 years.
“It’s definitely an honor,” Schmid said. “It’s a reflection of a body of work more so than an individual season or an individual year. Sometimes you want to step back and look at it, but I’ll do that when I’m all done coaching. I certainly know some of the things I’ve accomplished and I’m really proud of those. It’s sort of validation for all that I thought I could do when I left accounting.”