Sounders GM Garth Lagerway talks about hiring Brian Schmetzer as new coach
Brian Schmetzer has always been humbly grateful for what Sigi Schmid gave him — a spot on his coaching staff when Seattle joined the Major League Soccer ranks in 2008.
But Schmetzer’s roots to this tradition-rich club go back to the time he started adulthood.
And that is what the Sounders FC brass wanted in their next coach — a proud steward.
Not wasting any more time lifting the interim tag, the club introduced Schmetzer, 54, as its next permanent coach Wednesday at an annual season ticketholders’ business meeting at CenturyLink Field.
After a 6-12-2 start, Schmid was fired July 26 after seven-plus seasons.
It’s been Schmetzer — Schmid’s top assistant coach — who has orchestrated the club’s turnaround. The Sounders have posted a league-best 10-2-4 mark since Schmetzer was promoted.
Seattle is coming off a 3-0 victory over top-seeded FC Dallas on Sunday in the first leg of a Western Conference semifinal series. The Sounders will try and finish it off in Frisco, Texas on Sunday.
A week ago, the Sounders advanced out of the knockout round with a 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City at CenturyLink Field.
When Sounders general manager Garth Lagerway was asked on stage why he made the decision to hire Schmetzer full-time in the middle of the playoffs, he uttered one word.
“Duh!” Lagerway said.
Schmetzer was told he essentially had the job by Lagerway after the team’s win over SKC last Thursday. The two sides then hammered out contract details in the days afterward.
Terms of Schmetzer’s deal were not disclosed.
“It all came to be,” Schmetzer said. “I am very happy.”
Lagerway said the Sounders making the playoffs was a measuring stick in the final decision to hire Schmetzer.
“At the end of the day, he earned it,” Lagerway said. “He was lights-out.”
It was, indeed, a good day for Schmetzer, who is one of Seattle’s own soccer sons.
As a kid, he played for the Lake City Hawks youth program for his father, Walter, who immigrated from Germany.
His love for the Seattle franchise began when the Sounders joined the North American Soccer League in 1974. He attended those home matches at downtown Memorial Stadium where players handed out flowers afterward.
Days after graduating from Nathan Hale High School in 1980, Schmetzer signed his first professional contract with the Sounders, who had progressed to one of the best clubs in the NASL. He played three seasons (1980-83).
Schmetzer bounced around after that, eventually playing for three teams in the Major Indoor Soccer League. One of those teams was the Tacoma Stars (1988-90) where he was also a player-coach.
He returned to the Sounders to play for former coach Alan Hinton in their debut year in the A-League in 1994 — a year before the club won back-to-back championships.
Schmetzer was hired as the coach of the USL-1 Sounders in 2002, leading the team to championships in 2005 and 2007.
When Schmid was hired as the franchise’s first coach in MLS before the 2009 season, Schmetzer joined him as the lead assistant coach and was with the team in that capacity until being promoted this season.