Sigi Schmid will return for a sixth season as Seattle Sounders FC coach, despite majority owner Joe Roth’s admission that he was terrified by the way his club ended its Major League Soccer season.
“As a sports fan and a fanatic Sounders fan and an owner and a businessman, I was terrified of that slide — particularly because the previous 22 games we had gotten 47 points,” Roth said Thursday in a conference call. “I mean, if we stunk, we stunk, but this was totally unexpected. So I think the job that (general manager Adrian Hanauer) and I have in front of us is to evaluate every single piece of the team: coach, coaches, medical staff, players, ball boys, you name it. I just wanted to hear from Sigi, and at the same time have him hear what my expectations of the team are.”
Seattle went 16-14-7 in MLS and made the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season. However, the Sounders went 1-6-3 over their last 10 games, including two losses to Portland in the Western Conference semifinals last week.
That sputtering finish triggered questions about Schmid’s job security. On Monday, Hanauer indicated that coaching was being considered as part of the club’s annual postseason review and that Schmid’s status might not be determined for as long as three weeks.
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However, Roth, Hanauer and Schmid met for two hours Tuesday in Los Angeles, and on Thursday, the club issued this statement from Roth:
“Adrian Hanauer and I met to review all team aspects of the organization. After a thorough evaluation, there is no question that Sigi Schmid is the right man to lead our club.
“While we are not happy with the way we finished, Sigi’s résumé and accomplishments speak for themselves. We have been to the playoffs five straight years, one of just three teams to have done that. Once you make the tournament you give yourself a chance to win the MLS Cup. Sigi has won two MLS Cups, and it won’t be long before he does it here in Seattle. We continue to strive for excellence and we will do everything we can and give him all the resources possible to make that a reality.”
In the conference call, Roth said the club retained Schmid for the most basic of reasons.
“I think Sigi is a great coach,” he said. “Nobody’s won more MLS games than Sigi — he’s a great coach. We just wanted to get some understanding about it and make sure that we can do the steps, whatever they are — whether they’re in training, in the locker room, or whatever – to make sure this thing doesn’t happen again.”
Schmid was not part of the conference call, and the club has not said when he will be made available to the media.
“He doesn’t have to defend himself,” Roth said. “We’re here to support him.”
Schmid was signed as Sounders FC’s first coach Dec. 16, 2008. He is under contract for 2014.
His 187 career wins are tops in MLS history. His teams have won nine major titles, including three Open Cups in Seattle, and MLS Cups and Supporters Shields with the Los Angeles Galaxy and Columbus Crew. He is a two-time MLS coach of the year.
Hanauer declined comment on reports that the club is looking to trade goals leader Eddie Johnson. ... Designated player Obafemi Martins was quoted on the Inside Futbol website as saying he would like to return to Europe. Martins was complimentary to the Sounders, and it was not clear if he was speaking about leaving Seattle or simply going out on loan. ... Reserve goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, 41, tweeted that he intends to return to the club next season. ... Hanauer said Schmid’s coaching staff also is expected to return.
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