Sounders FC

Sit-in coach adjusts well to trailing early

Brian Schmetzer said he was calm before his Major League Soccer coaching debut Saturday.

However, that changed a bit when the Houston Dynamo jumped to an early lead over his Seattle Sounders.

“Relatively calm before the game, because I thought we had done the preparation,” Schmetzer said. “That’s one thing that I learned from (coach Sigi Schmid). He’s prepared for all of the games, so I felt that I was very prepared before the game, so before the game wasn’t so bad. After they were up 1-0 there (was some) anxiety, a little bit of emotion: ‘Gee, what are we going to do?’ At the same time I didn’t want to panic either.”

Whatever Schmetzer did worked, as the Sounders rallied for a 2-1 win over the team with the top record in MLS.

And one of the things he did was perform a one-man version of good cop/bad cop at halftime.

“My coaching style is to get all the emotions out first,” Schmetzer said. “And I was a little upset that we gave up the goal ... because I didn’t think we defended as a group. … So I got on them a little bit to start with, and then we just talked about tactics, about how we were going to try and play a little differently, stay composed, keep a little more possession.”

Schmetzer said his other main decisions involved substitutions: sending Sebastien Le Toux in for Steve Zakuani in the 56th minute, and Roger Levesque in for Freddie Ljungberg in the 89th minute.

Le Toux and Levesque both played for Schmetzer last season when he was coach of the USL-1 Sounders. This season, Schmetzer is the top assistant for the MLS Sounders, but he took over Saturday when Schmid was attending the wedding of his son Kurt.

Hometown villains

Several members of the Dynamo have Northwest connections: Brian Ching, Cam Weaver and coach Dominic Kinnear used to play for the USL Sounders; backup goalkeeper Tally Hall is a native of Gig Harbor; and Mike Chabala and Craig Waibel attended the University of Washington.

However, it wasn’t much of a homecoming, as neither Ching, Weaver, nor Hall saw the pitch. And Waibel was booed every time he touched the ball after an incident in the 79th minute when he retaliated for a sideline bump by flicking the ball into the back of Freddie Ljungberg’s head. “I’m a bit embarrassed,” Waibel said.

Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com

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