The Seattle Sounders announced Tuesday they have agreed to mutually part ways with head coach Sigi Schmid, ending the eight-year run of the only coach in the franchise’s MLS era.
Longtime Sounders assistant and former USL Sounders manager Brian Schmetzer will assume the role of interim head coach, effective immediately.
“Sigi Schmid has been an invaluable member of Sounders FC since the club’s MLS launch, leading our organization to numerous trophies and a consistent winning culture for seven seasons,” Sounders Owner Adrian Hanauer said. “Sigi departs the club with our utmost respect and gratitude for his years of service. Ultimately the club and Sigi agreed that a change was needed at this time, but Sigi’s legacy will always be a part of our history. He has my sincere appreciation for all that he committed to our team and community.”
After leading the club to a quartet of Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup titles, the 2014 MLS Supporters’ Shield and seven-consecutive MLS Cup Playoffs appearances, Schmid leaves Seattle following 20 regular-season matches this season, with the Rave Green currently occupying ninth place in the Western Conference with a 6-12-2 overall record (20 points).
“I want to thank Seattle Sounders FC for the opportunity to lead this club over the past eight years, with particular gratitude to Adrian Hanauer, Joe Roth and the rest of the club’s ownership group. I’d also like to thank my coaches and technical staff for the support they’ve given me, and most importantly I want to thank my players for their tremendous effort throughout the years,” Schmid said. “I’m proud of the success we’ve achieved in winning five major trophies in Seattle, qualifying for the postseason for seven-straight seasons. My only disappointment is that we were unable to bring home an MLS Cup to our tremendous fans, who have always been supportive through good times and bad. In closing, I want to thank the Sounders FC organization, the club’s fans and the city of Seattle for this amazing run.”
Schmid, 63, came to Seattle from Columbus Crew SC in 2008 on the back of an MLS Cup title in Columbus. Schmid previously claimed the 2002 MLS Cup with the LA Galaxy, and overall his teams have captured 11 major titles. A two-time MLS Coach of the Year and recent National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee, Schmid just crossed the 500 regular-season MLS match threshold in June of 2016, becoming the first coach in league history to reach that mark.
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.
"It's been a privilege to work with a legend like Sigi and I've learned a lot from him. We thank him for his many years of excellent service to this club,” Sounders General Manager and President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey said. “He established a foundation that led this franchise to one of the best launches in professional sports history. It will be tough for any coach to match the legacy of success he has established, and it is with a heavy heart that we part ways with such a respected figure.
“Brian Schmetzer will become our interim head coach and we will begin a search to identify who will lead the players for the next several years. Stability and loyalty are hallmarks of this organization and it is incumbent upon us to reset the club and make good long-term decisions about our future in an effort to establish a championship contender.”
Schmetzer, meanwhile, has served as the Sounders’ top assistant since the club’s MLS inception in 2009. The Seattle native is one of the Puget Sound soccer community’s most recognizable figures after playing and coaching for the region’s top professional franchises since 1980. Prior to joining Schmid’s staff in MLS, Schmetzer helmed the Sounders for seven seasons in the United Soccer League from 2002-2008, guiding the club to USL-1 championships in 2005 and 2007, as well as a pair of Commissioner’s Cups for the league’s best regular-season record and six postseason appearances in seven years.
He was named USL-1 Coach of the Year in 2002 after leading the Sounders to a 23-4-1 record and league championship, finishing his time in USL-1 with a 100-57-41 overall regular-season record.
On four different occasions, Schmetzer has filled in for Schmid for during MLS regular-season play, accumulating a record of 3-1-0. Schmetzer’s coaching career was preceded by a 15-year professional playing career, including stints with the North American Soccer League Sounders from 1980-1983 and the Sounders’ inaugural season in the A-League in 1994.
The Sounders return to action against the LA Galaxy at CenturyLink Field on Sunday (1 p.m. PT; ESPN/KIRO 97.3 FM/El Rey 1360AM).