Sigi Schmid’s coaching legacy reaches deep into the United States men’s national soccer team, which opens CONCACAF Gold Cup play against Grenada today at Qwest Field.
Five of the 30 players on the USA roster have played for Schmid, who now coaches Seattle Sounders FC. Those players range from Brad Evans, a current Sounder and national team newcomer, to national team veteran Jimmy Conrad, who played for Schmid at UCLA.
“The transition from being a college player to a pro player came a lot easier because of the expectations he set at UCLA,” Conrad said Friday after training at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila. “He’s been a good coach for a very long time, has had success at every level. I haven’t had the chance to play with him since I’ve been in the pros; but I’ve played against him, and I think he’s had my number more than I’ve had his.”
Four players on the U.S. roster have played for Schmid as professionals: Chad Marshall, Robbie Rogers and Jon Busch all played for Schmid in Columbus; and Evans has played for him at Columbus, Seattle and with the USA under-20 team.
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“They say he’s mellowed out quite a bit – which is a good thing,” Conrad said. “I think he’s become very comfortable in his abilities and his strengths. Obviously, every human being has some insecurities and they can come out if there are some stressful situations. But I think he’s been much better at like being even keeled.
“It seems very un- Sigilike to be that way; but I think since he’s been like that and seems to have found that inner peace he’s become a really solid coach and his teams are great.”
Conrad, a member of the MLS Kansas City Wizards, made his national team debut in the 2005 Gold Cup. His performance there paved the way for his two appearances in the 2006 World Cup.
“I have very fond memories (of that Gold Cup),” Conrad said. “... I’m excited for a lot of the young guys to get an opportunity who might not be household names for some people that follow U.S. soccer; but I think that after these 30 days, you’re going to definitely know who they are.”
Naturally, Evans hopes to be one of those guys.
He has been a regular in the Sounders’ midfield but is being used as a defender with the national team.
“I think he has been an important part of Seattle’s success throughout the first part of this season,” national team coach Bob Bradley said.
Evans said Friday that he hadn’t yet been told if he will be one of the 18 players wearing the red, white and blue today. If he is, he would become part of what will be the second USA men’s national soccer team to play on the Fourth of July.
“It’s going to be pretty emotional for sure,” Evans said. “You’ve got to try to soak it in; it’s all going to go by in the snap of a finger. But soak it in the best you can and try to put out a good performance and get a good result. ... The butterflies are there, but good butterflies.”
Gold Cup notes
The Qwest Field doubleheader begins with Honduras meeting Haiti at 4 p.m. The U.S. and Grenada kick off at 6 p.m. Plenty of tickets remain available. ... All U.S. matches will be shown on Fox Soccer Channel. ... The Gold Cup begins with round-robins of three four-team groups. The top two finishers in each group and two third-place finishers advance to single-elimination play. The championship game will be July 26. ... The USA men’s national team is 5-2-1 in Seattle, including four consecutive victories. ... The U.S. has won its two previous meetings against Grenada.
Sounders FC has signed Harvard midfielder Michael Fucito, the club’s fourth-round selection in the 2009 SuperDraft.
However, the team instantly placed him on the disabled list due to a foot problem. He won’t be eligible to play in MLS matches through Aug. 15, but is eligible for friendlies and U.S. Open Cup matches.
Jaqua claims innocence
The lawyer and family of Sounders FC forward Nate Jaqua put out statements Friday maintaining that he is innocent of the sexual assault alleged in a civil suit filed in Oregon.
“Nate Jaqua was shocked to learn of these allegations,” attorney David Angeli wrote. “The complaint – which has not even been served on Nate – is baseless. It alleges events that purportedly took place two years ago. In the past two years, Nate has never been contacted by the police, the district attorney’s office, the plaintiff, her lawyer, or anyone else regarding these allegations. Nate has confidence in the legal system and is certain that these allegations will be proven to be false.”
The family’s full statement and additional background on the case is available at blogs.thenewstribune.com/soccer.