To the surprise of no one, Brian Schmetzer is now the Seattle Sounders’ permanent manager. The man who took over for Sigi Schmid on an interim basis midseason the orchestrated one of the most incredible turnarounds in MLS history to get them into the playoffs — and now one match away from the Western Conference final — spent the last several months making his case to keep the job beyond the season. And he made a hell of a case; one that the Sounders couldn’t ignore. So on Wednesday, Seattle announced that Schmetzer would lose the interim tag and be the Sounders’ boss for years to come.
It was a perfect situation for the Sounders because Schmetzer wasn’t just the man who turned the team around and dragging them out of what looked like a lost season. He’s a Seattle native who played for the Sounders in the NASL indoor and outdoor leagues. He played for FC Seattle, the Tacoma Stars Seattle SeaDogs, then coached the team for years in USL before becoming an assistant under Schmid when the team jumped to MLS. He is the living embodiment of decades of Seattle soccer.
By keeping Schmetzer as manager, the Sounders are ensuring that they’ve still only had two managers since 2002, be it in USL or MLS: Schmid and Schmetzer. That’s incredible and enviable continuity.
That the Sounders announced Schmetzer staying on permanently and the Alliance Annual Business Meeting is no coincidence either. It was a gathering of the club’s stakeholders — those hugely invested in the club and the sport in the city. To unveil Schmetzer as the full-time boss there, in front of that community, was especially significant with someone like Schmetzer, who is Seattle soccer.
From that standpoint, the decision to take the interim tag off of Schmetzer on Wednesday makes sense. But that’s about the only way in which it does.
It was clear weeks ago what Schmetzer had done with this team. That he had proven himself as a good fit for this team. And it was clear after they beat Sporting Kansas City in the knockout round of the playoffs a week ago. It was most clear on Sunday, when the Sounders thrashed FC Dallas, 3-0, to take a huge lead into the second leg of their Western Conference semifinal tie. But the Sounders didn’t give him the job on a permanent basis in September or October. They didn’t do it last week after they beat Sporting or even on Monday, after embarrassing FC Dallas.
The Sounders waited so long to give him the job that it felt like they didn’t want to do it midseason. After all, they had a good thing going with Schmetzer as the interim boss. Why change things up? Sure, they can know that as soon as the season is over they want to make it permanent, but avoiding a shakeup made sense. It’s not like another manager, who the Sounders may have preferred, was hired and Schmetzer was next up on their list either. It doesn’t look like anything changed at all for the Sounders or Schmetzer by the time they got to Wednesday, and yet that’s when the interim tag came off.
So the timing is weird. But in the end, does it matter? Seattle made the right decision. Whether it’s the results, Schmetzer’s history or the fans, there was only one move for the Sounders to make. And on Wednesday, they made it.
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