SEATTLE – The Seattle Sounders opened a new era without head coach Sigi Schmid on Sunday, and the gravity of the moment was not lost on longtime Schmid friend and foe Bruce Arena.
The LA Galaxy head coach spoke at length about Schmid’s midweek departure from the Sounders after the teams’ 1-1 draw at CenturyLink Field, expressing sadness for a peer but respect for a Sounders organization now blazing a new trail without its longtime coach at the helm.
“It’s sad when you see that, but at the same time, we know what we sign up for,” Arena said. “No one ever tells us we have a job for life, so we understand that. But my respect certainly goes to Sigi, and I also understand this is a business and the Sounders do what they think is in the best interest for their team.
“Fair enough. But we’ve temporarily lost one of the great people in the game in this country.”
Schmid and the Sounders mutually agreed to part ways on Tuesday amid the worst season since the club joined MLS in 2009. Schmid and Arena are the two most successful coaches in league history – Schmid is the all-time leader in wins (228) and Arena leads in MLS Cup titles (5) – and the two have a history that dates back to their time as collegiate players in 1972, when Schmid and UCLA beat Arena and Cornell in the national semifinals of the NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship.
“We were around in the days when nothing was happening,” Arena said. “We didn’t have a professional league, but we stuck in there and built our collegiate programs … We have history going back a long time, so it’s certainly sad when you see something like that with a person who’s done so much for this game and so much for Seattle here. This organization, this team has been one of the best in the league for eight years.”
The Sounders and Galaxy will face off one more time this year on Sept. 25 at SubHub Center in Carson, Calif.