Sigi Schmid, an accomplished collegiate and professional soccer coach in America, died yesterday in the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center at the age of 65. He had been hospitalized for three weeks. The reason for his hospitalization was that he was in need of a heart transplant.
For soccer players who were guided by his wisdom of the beautiful game, as well as countless fans, this is devastating news. Sigi Schmid was a dominating force in MLS specifically and American soccer broadly. His coaching resume includes UCLA, a couple runs with the United States U20s, the LA Galaxy, the Seattle Sounders and the Columbus Crew.
As a lifelong Crew fan, Sigi Schmid unforgettably led the original Black & Gold in MLS to the club’s first-ever MLS championship in 2008. In addition to watching that title team play in Columbus throughout 2008, I was lucky enough to watch the Crew defeat the New York Red Bulls 3-1 in Los Angeles with my parents.
That game and celebration were massive.
As is the legacy of Sigi Schmid for the sport of soccer in America. His roster for the 2008 Crew was full of players that weren’t household names in the U.S. yet they became just that when Mr. Schmid was done with them. Moreover, according to ESPN, he holds the honor of “the winningest coach in MLS history.”
Another part of his legacy was wearing a Crew scarf, regardless of the temperature. This tradition revealed his sincere embrace and lifelong membership in the Columbus Crew community.
RIP Sigi Schmid.
Unlike Frasier, Sigi Schmid will sign-off from Seattle without a shelf full of awards.
Sigi Schmid, the now former head soccer coach of the Seattle Sounders (and mid-season, no less) will now be afforded an intriguing future that could very well pin his resume beside Jürgen Klinsmann’s resume. At 63 years of age, Mr. Schmid, barring an unknown physical condition/restriction or family issue, has many years left to lead a soccer club.
Or national team?
On the plus side, Mr. Schmid compiled a team in the Columbus Crew that had a few familiar names (foreign and domestic) and nearly an entire roster of virtual unknowns that put together one of the best MLS Cup runs in the league’s history. That championship, the first MLS Cup for the Crew, was hoisted with fanfare in 2008 in Los Angeles. And fans remember that special title from eight years ago.
On the negative side, his teams in Seattle, while filled with young and excitingly promising talent, was mostly just that: promising. On a further negative note, Mr. Schmid’s squads are typically anchored by a foreign star near or slightly above his prime. Consider that arguably the greatest dilemma for the USMNT (United States Men’s National Team) is transitioning from the current/older roster of players from the past two World Cups towards a revolution of youth and unknown chemistry, so to speak.
Could Sigi Schmid find his creative stroke circa Columbus Crew 2008 again?
At the same time, recall Sigi Schmid failed to win the MLS Cup in Seattle with the Sounders with all the money and resources thrown his way. And winning the MLS Cup was the purpose of his hire.
This debate will slowly intensify and U.S. Soccer has to move fast to determine if results and style against the best national teams in the world hold any significance in maintaining or appointing the USMNT head coach. U.S. Soccer can illogically stick with Mr. Klinsmann (when an artist paints a frustratingly repetitive and dismal future for an audience craving optimism, hire a new artist) or fire and then hire a new manager with an exciting and dynamic vision with a proven record of success at either the club or with a national team at the highest level.
Interestingly, the word “fired” hasn’t been used to describe the “parting of ways” between Sigi Schmid and the Sounders organization. Perhaps Seattle’s MLS brass foresaw a firing as a self-admittance and declaration of going 0-8 at trying to win the MLS Cup. Was it just bad luck? Note that this kind of streak didn’t exist when Sigi Schmid managed the massive Columbus Crew. Maybe that was then and this is now?
As Frasier Crane would say, with authority, wit and his piercing glare, “there are no accidents.”
We’ll have to wait and see if U.S. Soccer executives agree with that psychological diagnosis whilst eating tossed salads and scrambled eggs.
P.S. Frasier’s logic also applies to current USMNT head coach Jürgen Klinsmann.