And Evans, who was drafted by Schmid and Columbus Crew SC as a rookie in 2007 and later brought to Seattle ahead of the team’s MLS debut in 2009, admitted the team’s first training session without Schmid on Thursday was a surreal experience.
“It’ll take a while to sink in,” Evans told reporters at the team’s Starfire Sports complex. “Last year Sigi was absent for a little while and [assistant Brian Schmetzer] stepped in, but you always knew it was temporary. And it’s for sure now. It will take a while to sink in, but as the weeks go on, No. 1 is that we’re here to win games. No matter what it takes – now it’s a coaching change, this weekend there could be lineup changes – something needed to ignite a fire. That was the goal. Unfortunately, that fell on [Schmid’s] shoulders, but now we come together.
“Ten years is a long time. It’s a little bit surreal, but at the end of the day, it is what it is.”
Evans said Schmid met with the team and the coaching staff early on Tuesday morning to break the news, the last of a string of conversations between the coach and player that goes back a decade.
“Sigi and I would meet outside the field and say what we can do better, what I can do better, what he can do better,” Evans said. “And those were honest, candid conversations. But at the end of the day the group wasn’t performing, so it is what it is at that point.”
Evans said he wouldn’t speak for other players and their respect for Schmid while the team has struggled through the worst season of its MLS era, but denied that any players have given up earning an eighth straight postseason berth, even against daunting odds.
“There isn’t anybody here taking breaks during training,” Evans said. “Any time we talk, I’m impressed by everybody coming out with a level head, even after a loss, because guys are hungry to get results. And they know what’s at stake.”
Clint Dempsey was absent from training on Thursday while preparing to suit up in the AT&T MLS All-Star Game in San Jose, but he told ESPN.com on Tuesday the team informed him of Schmid’s departure via text message, and that he respected what Schmid accomplished during his time in Seattle.
“He was a coach who did well in his career, his record speaks for itself and what he was able to accomplish in MLS,” Dempsey said. “He won some MLS Cups, and he was able to do well at the collegiate level, and I wish him the best.”
Asked if he would have liked to see Schmid continue on with the club despite a rough season, Dempsey deferred to the Sounders brass that made the decision to move on.
“That’s not for me to decide. I just go in and try and help the team win,” Dempsey said. “Whatever they feel is best moving forward, you support that and try and turn things around.”
Dempsey is excepted to return from San Jose on Friday and be available to play when the Sounders return to action against the LA Galaxy on Sunday at CenturyLink Field.