Sigi Schmid 1118

Two best coaches in MLS history meet in Conference Championship

The 2014 MLS Western Conference Championship features the two winningest coaches in league history: Sigi Schmid of Sounders FC and Bruce Arena of the LA Galaxy.

Six of the 18 MLS Cups belong to either Schmid or Arena, who coached against each other at the collegiate level before their storied MLS tenures. In head-to-head matchups, Arena has a slight edge over Schmid with an 11-8-6 record in all competitions at the professional level.

“If it was him and I kicking the ball, it would make for an ugly game, especially since he was a goalkeeper,” said Schmid, who was a midfielder at UCLA while Arena played at Cornell. “We only played against each other once when I was in college. We won 1-0, but it was a game that, under new concussion protocol, I would have never finished the game. I got concussed early on in that game and I can’t remember anything about it. I wish I could.”

Sounders FC forward Clint Dempsey played under Arena for a few years with the U.S. National Team. After training on Tuesday, he was asked to compare Arena with his current coach.

“They’re both very confident, very successful in their trade in terms of what they’ve done in their careers not only in college, but also at the MLS level, and Bruce at the National Team level,” Dempsey said. “They’re coaches that have winning mentalities and always figure out ways to get their teams to perform well in big games. They’re winners, and I think that’s why you’ve seen their careers be so consistent over time.”

As their clubs prepare to duel for a spot in the MLS Cup Final, here is a numerical comparison of the two Head Coaches and descriptions of three of their most notable head-to-head matchups.

  Schmid Arena
MLS Cups 2 4
Regular-Season Wins 207 176
Postseason Wins 23 28
Supporters' Shields 3 3
Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Titles 5 1
CONCACAF Champions Cup Titles 1 1
MLS Coach of the Year Honors 2 3

Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinals

Sounders FC faced LA twice in the U.S. Open Cup when they met in back-to-back quarterfinal matchups in 2010 and 2011. Both games were played at Starfire Sports, and both were two-goal victories for Schmid’s squad. Nate Jaqua had both goals in the 2-0 win in 2010, then recorded a goal and an assist in a 3-1 victory a year later. The Sounders went on to win the Open Cup both years, part of a three-peat from 2009-11.

2012 Western Conference Championship

Arena’s team spoiled the first appearance in a Conference Championship for Sounders FC. It was Robbie Keane who led the Galaxy to victory, as the Irish forward scored two goals in the First Leg and added a penalty kick in the Second Leg. After losing 3-0 on the road, Seattle came out strong at CenturyLink Field, taking a 2-0 lead on goals by Eddie Johnson and Zach Scott. Keane’s penalty halted Seattle’s momentum, however, ending its hope of reaching the MLS Cup Final.

2014 Supporters’ Shield Race

Schmid and Arena’s teams were tied atop the league table at 60 points with two matches remaining in the 2014 regular season. The Galaxy was playing for its third Supporters’ Shield in five years, while Seattle was looking for its first. Sounders FC came from behind to earn a 2-2 draw at LA in the first match. Six days later, Schmid’s team lifted the first Shield in franchise history in front of its fans at CenturyLink Field after a 2-0 victory over LA in the regular-season finale.

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