Sounders Insider

Sigi Schmid's remarkable riff on how winning became part of Sounders' DNA

"I’m only going to talk about us, not about others," he said. "But we have a high level that we demand from our players in terms of what they do in practice every day, the commitment they make in terms of their training habits, how they take care of themselves. And also when we step out onto the field to perform, we expect to win. We don’t walk on the field hoping to get a tie. We don’t walk on the field hoping we don’t lose today. We walk on the field expecting to win. And that is something that’s been a culture that we established here in year on that we’ve maintained over all those years, that maybe doesn’t exist always and sometimes it takes players a while to get used to that culture. Because that is something that everybody talks about that doesn’t exist all the times. So you have a setback, that’s life. Yeah, we have quality players and a deep squad, so sometimes then you fall to the back of the line and you have to wait your turn again."

Schmid was asked how difficult it is to establish that kind of culture:

"I don’t know," he said. "When you ask how hard it is, the reason I say ‘I don’t know’ is I’ve never known any other way. I remember when I was a young coach and I started coaching – this is college – I was saying, ‘Man, if I had to be like 9-9 every year I’d probably shoot myself or quit. There’s no way I could do this.’ It’s just something as a player at UCLA we went to three Final Fours in four years. It’s just an expectation that I always had. So what you do is you establish it, and it’s the little details that are important. You take care of those little details whether it’s watching video, whether it’s saying something to a guy and seeing him implement it in the next practice exercise, or it’s just the other players demanding things of each other. (Tuesday) when we were training there was a situation where somebody said something, and one of the older players said, ‘No, it’s like this.’ What happens is they buy in and it gets passed down to the younger players. So once you get it established, it’s easier to move on with it and pass it down. It’s just something that you expect from your team. You step out the first practice game that we played as a team in 2009, we said, ‘Hey, we’re stepping out here to win the game, we’re going to establish a winning habit, and we start establishing a winning habit now. It’s not just an exhibition game, we’re not just here to have a good time and see how it’s nicey nice or something like that. We want to establish that in our DNA now.'"