SEATTLE, WA—(Sounders release) Sounders FC announced at tonight’s Alliance Annual Business Meeting that Brian Schmetzer has been named the second Head Coach in club history, shedding the interim tag he has held since July 26. After serving as the club’s Top Assistant Coach since Sounders FC joined MLS in 2009, Schmetzer took over managerial duties and guided the team to an 8-2-4 finish to the 2016 regular season, vaulting Seattle from ninth place to fourth position in the Western Conference. The former USL Sounders manager has since led the Rave Green to wins in the first two matches in the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs, including a 3-0 win last Sunday over Supporters’ Shield champion FC Dallas in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals.
“We are extremely pleased to announce Brian as the Head Coach of Seattle Sounders FC,” said Seattle Owner Adrian Hanauer. “His connection to this city and club goes back decades, long before I hired him to manage the USL Sounders in 2002. He has always been an incredible steward of the organization and ambassador for our club in the community, and what he and the team have accomplished on the field over the past three months is worthy of recognition. With that sentiment in mind, we look forward to seeing him continue his great work this season and beyond.”
Schmetzer, 54, led the biggest turnaround in league history after taking over Sounders FC managerial duties following the club’s parting of ways with longtime skipper Sigi Schmid on July 26. With Seattle then in ninth place in the Western Conference with a record of 6-12-2, Schmetzer’s leadership immediately sparked a five-match unbeaten run (3-0-2). The squad continued its groove with an unbeaten run in September in which it jumped up the table from ninth place to postseason positioning. Sounders FC secured its eighth consecutive berth in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs with a 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake on Decision Day, capping a late-season run with just two losses in 14 matches (8-2-4), the most points in MLS over that span. Under Schmetzer’s guidance, Seattle became the first team in league history to make the postseason after recording 20 or fewer points through the first 20 matches of the season.
“The Sounders organization and the culture of our club has been a big part of my adult life,” said Sounders FC Head Coach Brian Schmetzer. “Highlighted by the fans’ relationship to the players and staff and a history of achievement on the field, what we have built here is very special. I am grateful for the opportunities that I’ve received here as a player, a coach in the club’s USL era, and now as Head Coach of the MLS team. I believe in the fact that for our players, this is their team, and they have responded by taking complete ownership of the season and driving us into the playoffs. I give them full credit for that, but our work isn’t finished yet. My goal is to make sure we can all enjoy this ride a little longer deep into the postseason.”
Schmetzer is currently unbeaten in nine games at CenturyLink Field (7-0-2), including a pair of shutout wins in the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs. After clinching the fourth spot with a Decision Day win over RSL, Seattle edged Sporting Kansas City in a tight 1-0 result in the Knockout Round before dismantling first-place FC Dallas 3-0 in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals. Sounders FC now travels to Dallas for the second leg this Sunday as Schmetzer aims to take his side to the Conference Finals for the third time in club history.
“We are excited to hire a person in Brian who has meant so much to the Sounders for so long,” said Sounders FC General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey. “Our club culture is of paramount importance to us and there could not be a better fit than Brian. Coach Schmetzer has done an outstanding job in turning the team around this year, and I’m excited to continue working with him. We are not finished yet.”
Before taking over as Interim Head Coach in late July, Schmetzer served as Sounders FC’s Top Assistant since the club’s MLS inception in 2009. The Seattle native is one of the Puget Sound soccer community’s most recognizable figures after playing and coaching for the region’s top professional franchises since 1980. Prior to joining Schmid’s staff in MLS, Schmetzer helmed the Sounders for seven seasons in the United Soccer League from 2002-2008, guiding the club to USL-1 championships in 2005 and 2007, as well as a pair of Commissioner’s Cups for the league’s best regular-season record and six postseason appearances in seven years. He was named USL-1 Coach of the Year in 2002 after leading the Sounders to a 23-4-1 record and league championship, finishing his time in USL-1 with a 100-57-41 overall regular-season record.
“Brian has a long history of winning as a Sounders Head Coach and a Sounders Assistant Coach, and I’m very happy that he’s able to continue to be in charge of the team. We think his experience in the past is going to translate, as it has over the past three months of the season, and bring the club continued success going forward,” said Sounders FC Sporting Director Chris Henderson. “On a personal note, I’ve known the Schmetzer family my entire life and I’m very excited that Brian will be representing this club and soccer in the state of Washington in 2017 and beyond.”
On four different occasions, Schmetzer filled in for Schmid during MLS regular-season play, accumulating a record of 3-1-0. Schmetzer’s coaching career was preceded by a 15-year professional playing career, including stints with the North American Soccer League Sounders from 1980-1983 and the Sounders’ inaugural season in the A-League in 1994.
Sounders FC travels to Dallas for the second leg of the Western Conference Semifinals on Sunday, November 6 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas (6:00 p.m. PT / FS1, FOX Deportes, KIRO Radio 97.3 FM, El Rey 1360 AM). The Conference Semifinals are held over two legs, with aggregate goals determining which team moves on to the Conference Championships. In the event that both teams score an equal number of goals over the course of the two matches, the team with the greater number of road goals for the series advances. Should the series be tied for both total goals and away goals, the teams play two 15-minute periods of extra time at the conclusion of the second leg in which away goals do not count. This is followed by penalty kicks, if necessary, to determine the winner.
Should Sounders FC advance, the club would take on the winner of the other Western Conference Semifinal matchup between LA Galaxy and Colorado Rapids. The Galaxy earned a 1-0 home win in the first leg on Sunday, with the two sides meeting for the second leg this upcoming Sunday in Commerce City, Colorado.