Sounders: So Long, Sigi

The Sounders fired their decorated coach Sigi Schmid after an embarrassing loss to Sporting Kansas City last weekend. This season is as good a time as any to start over.

The Sounders fired Sigi Schmid yesterday amidst an all-but-lost season after one of the most embarrassing performances by the Sounders in recent years. In the 3-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City last weekend, they could only muster one shot on goal, even with the return of their star forward Clint Dempsey.

Schmid, of course, was a terrifically successful coach for the Sounders since 2009, when he was named the first MLS coach for the Sounders. Over the past seven and a half seasons, Schmid did everything with the Sounders except capture the MLS Cup. The Sounders have won an MLS Supporters’ Shield, four US Open Cups, and reached the Western Conference Finals twice.

But it all came undone this year for the Sounders and Schmid. At 6-12-2, they have virtually no hope of getting to the playoffs, even with the addition of Designated Player Nicolas Ladeiro (more on him on ECS later).

Schmid’s critics have long pointed out his over-reliance on a few star players at the expense of team-wide tactics and a solid second option for goal-scoring. I thought that, even with the loss of Obafemi Martins, Schmid appeared to be over his leaning on Clint Dempsey heading into this season with the addition of Jordan Morris, a raw but talented young forward with his hometown behind him.

A few different bounces, a few calls by referees, and a few more goals on wide open chances, and the Sounders’ season could have been much different. Still, Schmid’s attempt to shift formations and a lack of cohesion between the midfield and the forwards–talented as they may be–created a difficulty to score that reached an almost-literal boiling point in the 100-degree heat last weekend in Kansas City, when the Sounders came two minutes and stoppage time away from being the first MLS team to not attempt a shot in a match.

The awful performance, particularly on offense, was the last straw for Schmid, the winningest coach in MLS history. With aging stars like Dempsey and center back Brad Evans, the Sounders must find young players to develop. I didn’t expect they would be looking for a new coach, too.

Sounders assistant coach Brian Schmetzer will be the interim coach in place of Schmid for the rest of the season. After that, the list of replacement candidates is long. We’ll dig into it here on ECS.