Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid admits that victory would be a little sweeter this weekend; not because of any bitterness he feels toward the Columbus Crew, but because of the friendships he made there.
“I always have a saying that you always want to win when you play friends,” Schmid said Thursday. “If you’re playing somebody you don’t know, you only hear about it that day. If you’re playing friends, you hear about it for a long time. You always want to get the win when you’re playing friends because it gives you bragging rights for a little bit of time. So that’s what this is all about.”
Schmid already had MLS Cup and MLS coach-of-the-year titles on his résumé when he was hired at Columbus in 2006. He took over a team that had gone 11-16-5 the previous year and in three seasons guided them to the Supporters Shield for the best regular-season record (17-7-6) and to the MLS Cup championship.
However, negotiations for a new contract didn’t match what Schmid had in mind.
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“It was a situation in Columbus where things didn’t proceed as I thought they were going to proceed in our negotiations, especially early on,” Schmid said in December, when he was introduced as the expansion Sounders’ coach. “At that point, I wanted to look at what other opportunities are out there.”
That’s how he jumped to Seattle, where he has led the Sounders to a 4-2-4 record – the best by an MLS expansion team through 10 games. Those four victories also moved him to 117 MLS career wins – the most by any active coach and seven short of Bob Bradley’s overall record.
For all that success, Schmid said he has no hard feelings for the organization that let him leave.
“That’s a front-office decision, and that’s the way the negotiations went,” he said. “I try not to worry about that.”
While Schmid is willing to let bygones be bygones, his departure disappointed Columbus fans.
“He’s a loved man there,” said Sounders assistant coach Ezra Hendrickson, who played under Schmid in Columbus. “Great fans. They had been waiting for a championship for a while, and he came there and within three years brought him a championship, so they were very happy with him.”
Midfielders Freddie Ljungberg (migraines), Brad Evans and Osvaldo Alonso (quadriceps strain) all practiced Thursday at Qwest Field, and Evans and Ljungberg both said they expect to be available at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, when the Sounders and Crew kick off.
Meanwhile, Schmid said the prognosis for Zach Scott (groin) is better than had been expected, and the organization no longer plans to put the defender on the injured list.
However, with defender Taylor Graham (foot) and keeper Chris Eylander (knee) on the injured list, Schmid said it is possible that a new player could be brought in.
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808