Sigi Schmid is the face of the Seattle Sounders. Sure we just officially signed a legitimate baller (Ivanschitz) and probably will sign another (Haedo Valdez). The team’s website has Dempsey and Oba mean mugging, but the decorated head coach is still the brand.
Sigi was our first big signing. We stole him from Columbus, immediately announcing Seattle as a club that plays for keeps. The city was in love with Schmid until The Collapse of 2013. #Sigiout was trending and the coach’s relationship with the team was seriously in doubt. Sigi was desperate to turn things around, but he lost the locker room and started Shalrie Joseph at striker.
There is a weird relationship between a coach and his team. In the good times, it is a symbiotic relationship, the two feed off and help each other (Sigi’s long-term project of developing Brad Evans). In rougher times, the relationship gets parasitic and one usually destroys the other (re: Eddie Johnson). At the end of 2013, Sigi and the team had to reassess their relationship.
Story has it that after The Collapse, Sigi held a meeting with Evans, Deuce and Ozzie. They met in a hotel and talked about the future of the team, and in this meeting Sigi consolidated his control, showed a clear vision and eventually the team re-upped its faith in him. He said he’d win with the right team and last year’s success seemed to validate that faith.
The narrative for last year’s USOC and Shield Double was that Sigi finally got his guys. Schmid had wanted to reunite with Chad Marshall for a long time and Chad Barrett was another Sigi disciple. These were both guys he knew, guys he trusted. Sigi built his 2014 squad with trustworthy, team-oriented guys. And as owner Joe Roth put it, the team finally had “more plumbers, less dancers.” Or so the narrative goes.
However. That narrative conveniently forgets the contribution of out-of-nowhere trialist Gonzalo Pineda and the good fortune of getting Marco Pappa through Allocation. And, oh yeah, a year of Dempsey and Oba rested and working together. Now the plot twists. The team is struggling again and someone, either the team or the coach, is going to get got.
Sigi, a passionate man, is dying to bench people. His frustration has shown as he’s rotated the midfield like mad: Rose, Roldan, Pineda, Thomas, Friberg. But he’s been stuck with Neagle and Barrett at striker. For a hot minute it looked like Craven, before his untimely injury, would push for minutes. “Plumbers” are great, unless that’s all you got.
Only Sigi can write the narrative for 2015. It is going to take a heroic coaching effort to get this team out of its historic slump. It will be a herculean task to get this team from this moment, right now, to hoisting the MLS Cup. I believe in Sigi, but the pressure is on. Sigi must win.
The front office invested in the coach before. Adrian and co. turned the team over after 2013, and now they’re doing it again mid-2015. With these fresh-off-the-presses signings and the recent additions of Thomas and Friberg, the roster has significantly changed. This shows a lot of faith in Sigi. He’s got better players, or rather, we’ve added “dancers.” For Sigi’s sake, the Sounders better see better results.