Sigi Schmid, former Sounders, Galaxy, head coach passes away

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SEATTLE, WA - MARCH 08: Head coach Sigi Schmid of the Seattle Sounders FC walks on to the pitch prior to the match against the New England Revolution at CenturyLink Field on March 8, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. The Sounders defeated the Revolution 3-0. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Los Angeles, Calif. — Sigi Schmid, a pioneer of soccer in the United States of America, has passed away.

At the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, Schmid passed away after being hospitalized three weeks ago. The initial hospitalization was due to heart problems. His cause of death was no revealed to the public.

Schmid passed away on Christmas day.

Born in Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg, West Germany, Schmid moved to California when he was a young child. He began his coaching career five years after wrapping up a collegiate career at the University of California, Los Angeles, coaching in 1980. He remained at UCLA until 1999, winning three NCAA Championship titles.

During his coaching days at UCLA, he also coached the United States U-20 National Team from 1998-99. In 1999, he began his professional coaching career, joining the Los Angeles Galaxy. He remained with the Galaxy until 2004.

During his time with the Galaxy, he won the MLS Coach of the Year during his first season. The Galaxy made it to the MLS Cup final in Schmid’s first season, but fell to D.C. United. The following season, the Galaxy won the CONCACAF Champion’s League cup, defeating Club Deportivo Olimpia, a club from Honduras.

In 2001, the Galaxy won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, but fell in the MLS Cup to the San Jose Earthquakes. The club’s first MLS Cup title came in 2002, with the Galaxy defeating the New England Revolution.

After his departure from the Galaxy in 2004, Schmid went back to coaching the U-20’s in 2005. However, he returned to the league in 2005 to coach the Columbus Crew SC. After some back-and-forth with players — like former goalkeeper Jon Busch — and with management, Schmid left the team in 2008.

Schmid’s legacy takes to Seattle

His most notable landing was with the Seattle Sounders FC.

Schmid became the club’s first-ever head coach. In his first season, Schmid led the Sounders to a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup victory over D.C. United. In that first season, Schmid became the winningest coach in MLS history, reaching his 125th victory. He surpassed Bob Bradley for the accolade, with Seattle’s 2-1 victory over FC Dallas.

Seattle was the second-only expansion team to make the MLS Cup playoffs during their inaugural season. The only other team to do so was the Chicago Fire 1998, only two years after the birth of MLS.

Schmid and the Sounders won a second-straight U.S. Open Cup title in 2010, defeating Schmid’s former club, Columbus. A third-consecutive win occurred in 2011, with the Sounders defeating the Chicago Fire. To this day, the Sounders are the only team to win the title for three-straight years.

In 2014, another U.S. Open Cup title hit the shelves at Century Link Field. Schmid was responsible for bringing in players like Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins and Brad Evans.

In the middle of the 2016 season, Schmid mutually agreed with the Sounders to leave hte club. Current head coach Brian Schmetzer replaced him. Instead of coaching, Schmid joined ESPN FC as an analyst.

Schmid goes back home

However, Schmid didn’t stay away from the pitch forever.

In 2017, Schmid returned to the LA Galaxy, joining the team on July 27. He replaced Curt Onalfo, who took over for Bruce Arena, who was with the U.S. Men’s National Team. Schmid couldn’t revive the struggling Galaxy in 2017, but after bringing in players like Zlatan Ibrahimović, Perry Kitchen and David Bingham, Schmid had a rollercoaster season.

Schmid did not re-sign players like Jermaine Jones and Gyasi Zardes, who went to the Columbus Crew SC.

In 2018, the Galaxy failed to make the playoffs, only one point away from sixth place. However, the Galaxy finished the season with a 13-12-9 record, one spot behind Real Salt Lake. Schmid left the team in September 2018 after struggles.

After Schmid’s passing, the Galaxy released a statement.

“The LA Galaxy are deeply saddened by the passing of Sigi Schmid,” the statement said. “Sigi was a pillar of the Southern California and United States soccer community. He was a pioneer and his influence on the sport of soccer in the United States will long be felt. Sigi was a man of character, a good father, husband, friend and a passionate coach who respected everyone. He will always be a part of our family. We mourn his loss and offer our deepest sympathies to his family during this difficult time.”

Statements from the Sounders

Schmid’s longest tenure in MLS came with the Seattle Sounders. After his passing members of the Sounders front office released statements on behalf of the club on the all-time winningest coach in MLS.

“Today’s news comes as a shock and a devastating blow to our entire community across MLS and U.S. Soccer,” owner Adrian Hanauer said. “Sigi was someone I respected immensely, not only for his success as a coach and dedication to his craft, but more importantly as a man and someone that truly left a positive mark on the people he encountered every day. He will be missed greatly by a lot of people, and on behalf of the soccer community here in Seattle, I can say that we would not be where we are now without him.”

Garth Lagerwey, Sounders general manager, called Schmid a “man of great class.”

“We are deeply saddened to hear of Sigi’s passing and our thoughts are with his family… I admired him both as a competitor and then as a colleague,” Lagerwey said. “His accomplishments in our league were vast, and his influence on U.S. soccer will leave a lasting legacy.”

Current Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said that Schmid was a “man of great character and integrity.”

“We are all deeply saddened to lose one of the most well-respected men in our soccer community, and extend our deepest condolences to his family,” Schmetzer said. “He helped launch our franchise with winning traditions, and I learned a lot from Sigi in our seven years of coaching together. He will always hold a special place in my heart, and I know the same can be said for our Sounders family and the greater Seattle soccer community.”

Former players, fellow teams take to social media to remember Sigi

Main Photo Credit:

Embed from Getty Images

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