Already the Major League Soccer leader in games coached and games won, Sigi Schmid will reach another milestone Saturday in Vancouver, B.C., when he coaches his 400th regular-season game.
“It has been awhile,” said Schmid, the only coach Seattle Sounders FC has had. “Believe me, because I got into the league three years after everybody else, so I never thought I would get to 400 games ahead of everybody else.”
Schmid was leading a college soccer dynasty at UCLA in 1996 when MLS began. The Los Angeles Galaxy contacted him then, but he had reservations regarding team facilities, and no deal was struck.
There was another near miss before the 1998 season. Schmid seemed poised to take over San Jose, but an ownership change ended that deal.
Finally, before the 1999 season, the Galaxy reached out again.
“I actually wanted to coach that one more year at UCLA because I knew I had a team that could win an NCAA title,” he said. “I said,
‘How about after the season?’ and they said, ‘No, we’re going to change now, so it’s now or never.’ So we were able to work out a contract that allowed me to stay in L.A. with my kids to get them through high school, so that was good.”
UCLA went on to the NCAA semifinals without Schmid, and the Galaxy went on to the MLS Cup final with him.
His Galaxy won the MLS Cup in 2002, but Schmid was fired after a 9-6-7 start to the 2004 season. He was out of the league in 2005 before going to Columbus in 2006. Two seasons later with the Crew, he won his second MLS Cup. He joined the expansion Sounders ahead of the 2009 season.
Schmid will take a 179-123-97 career record into his 400th MLS regular-season game.
“It’s certainly a reflection on some good teams and good players, and they’ve performed well,” Schmid said. “We’ve been able to figure out how to get the result more times than not, and that’s an important part of it to get to 400. I feel very honored to get to 400 and to be the first one to get there. I would like it to be many, many more, and I would like a few more titles along the way.”
The club trained Thursday at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila before scattering to enjoy the Fourth of July holiday. That was a rare treat for the Sounders, who spent Independence Day 2012 playing at Real Salt Lake, and 2011 and 2010 in Los Angeles. “To be honest with you, I don’t remember having a Fourth of July that hasn’t been on the road,” veteran defender Zach Scott said. “It seems like it’s been so long. So yeah, this has been really great.” Schmid said midfielder Mario Martinez’s return is “becoming a dead issue, or close to that.” However, he uggested general manager Adrian Hanauer as the better source. “Mario is off our roster at this point, based on the fact that his loan expired,” Hanauer said. “We’re still in communication, but I would agree with Sigi that things are looking less and less like he’ll come back. But until he has a new team, until things are set in stone, I guess you never say never.” Hanauer said the club is investigating what went wrong Wednesday when new security procedures at CenturyLink Field left long lines of fans waiting outside the stadium as the team kicked off its 2-0 win over D.C. United. “We clearly didn’t have enough people dealing with the (metal) wanding,” Hanauer said. “I don’t know why we didn’t have enough people, how we came to the conclusion that X number of people were the right number of people, whether there were extenuating circumstances. My hunch is it was a late-arriving crowd because it was a weeknight and there was traffic, but that’s no excuse. We need to be prepared for whoever shows up, whenever.” The club’s next home game is July 20 against the Colorado Rapids.