The Sounders went through another training session at Starfire today ... but with first assistant Brian Schmetzer in charge while head coach Sigi Schmid remains out with an undisclosed health issue.
“We just want him to get better,” general manager Garth Lagerwey said. “That’s what’s most important by far. We want him to get better and get better as fast as he can. He’s got a great family and a lot of support around him, and that’s what we’re hoping for. ... As you can imagine, there are medical privacy issues around this stuff when it’s health-related. My answer has to be that Sigi will address this if he chooses to. We are hopeful that he will be back and again, there’s no pressure. It’s when he feels good, when he’s healthy, then he’ll come back. That’s what we’re hoping for, that he comes back 100 percent and happy and everything in order.”
Lagerwey added that the club is in good hands in Schmid’s absence.
“Not just Brian, but the whole staff,” he said. “Brian’s a guy who’s certainly been a part of the Sounders for 30 years, I think. It’s great to have somebody in that role that’s ready. … Brian’s very well prepared and in some respects has waited a long time for this moment and I think he’s more than ready to fill in as long as we need him to. Obviously he’s been a head coach before and is experienced with this. I asked him if he needed any help from me, and he said, ‘The on the field stuff, I got that, I’ll take care of that.’ He said, ‘I might need a little practice for some of the off-the-field stuff.’ He felt it’s like riding a bike, it would come back to him.”
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Schmetzer said the club had a good session today before an off day Wednesday. Clint Dempsey left early, a precaution for his hamstring with an eye toward delivering him healthy to the Saturday match at San Jose. Nelson Valdez worked, but still feeling the effects of shin kicks from the weekend win over Toronto. And Schmetzer also expressed warm wishes toward Schmid.
“What’s important for me is that Sigi gets back to full health,” he said. “That’s absolutely paramount for all of us. The messaging, whatever happens, that’s up to Sigi and the front office.”
Schmetzer said he is in daily communication with Schmid. And while he’s eager for Schmid to return to health and return to the job, he admitted he’s enjoying being back in change of a club he coached with much success during its USL days.
“Sure, it’s fun to train with the guys,” Schmetzer said. “Look, if you asked me in 2002 if I ever would have had a chance to coach arguably the best player that the U.S. has ever produced, I’d say you guys are crazy. If you guys would have asked me in 2002 that I would have been able to coach world-class players – Oba, Ivanchitz, Valdez – I would have said you guys are all crazy. So yes, it’s fun. It’s enjoyable. It keeps me young.”
More from Schmetzer:
On club morale: The overall morale is great. What we’re attempting to do is as the team progresses .. that they understand that all of the hard work that they’ve done since preseason – they’re the ones who did the work, so they’re the ones that should reward themselves for all the work and let’s not miss this opportunity to stay really focuses and tight and together. They worked hard today, and they’re tired, and they’ve got to do weights in the afternoon. So if they’re putting all that work in, let’s reward ourselves for that work.
On his style and Schmid’s: We’re both German. Being around Sigi for a long time, I’ve certainly learned a lot. I have my own ideas. We’re pretty compatible. We’ve won a lot of games together. There’s not a massive change when I take training. It might be a subtle change here or there. I think Ante has come in and done a good job. I think Tommy Dutra is the best goalkeeper coach in the league. They have a lot of familiarity already. Dave’s been here for the duration. It’s not massive changes. It’s just subtle changes based on the differences that Sigi and I have. But they’re small.
On playing Dempsey, Martins and Valdez together positionally: We haven’t solved that yet. It was exciting. I was very happy that all three of them were out on the field at the same time. And I think it’s just a preview of how good this team can be. Now Nelson, obviously, got the stuff beat out of him. He’s got a bad wheel, so that hindered things. That prevented some of the stuff that we want to try here on the training field, but on Thursday I’d be able to answer that a little more clearly as to lineups and that sort of stuff. There’s no set way that those guys are going to play here, here and here. They’re too good for that. I mean, who am I to tell those three guys this is what to do offensively – I mean really.