SEATTLE — Saturday was a special occasion for Seattle Sounders assistant coach Gonzalo Pineda.
While head coach Brian Schmetzer is away at a U.S. Soccer coaching course in Nashville, Pineda took over managerial duties for the Sounders’ 1-1 draw with German Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt in a friendly at CenturyLink Field. Pineda is a storied Mexican international and was playing for Seattle as recently as two years ago.
“It’s very special,” Pineda said of the opportunity. “I played for this club for two years, and it’s an honor to be sitting on the bench also as an assistant to Brian Schmetzer. He’s the boss and I respect him a lot. It was an honor to be there today.”
Pineda and the rest of the coaching staff went over Saturday’s game plan with Schmetzer, and although he definitely had some input in the overall approach and strategy, the onus was very much on Pineda to step up. Despite being a full-time assistant for just half a season, Pineda has absorbed a massive amount from his own former coach.
“[Schmetzer is] super patient and I love that,” Pineda said. “I’m a little bit more irrational sometimes, especially with the referees. So I’m learning that part from Brian. He’s a great teacher for me, probably the best I can have in my career.
“In certain situations that presented themselves in the match,” Pineda continued in Spanish, “I was thinking what was best for the team and imagining what Brian would do and would say to our players.”
Like Schmetzer, Pineda was quick to deflect any compliments and praise onto his team. He was proud of the way they executed the game plan and the approach they took. Pineda said he was grateful for the way his team responded to him and how they didn’t relax or take their foot off the gas without their normal coach.
The players, for their part, welcomed Pineda’s guidance and were excited for his opportunity.
“I thought he did a fantastic job,” said goalkeeper Bryan Meredith, who played the second half on Saturday. “He prepared us well and going forward I think he’s going to have a good coaching career.”