Sigi Schmid out as Seattle Sounders coach amid eighth season in charge
The Seattle Sounders have mutually parted ways with coach Sigi Schmid, the MLS club announced on Tuesday.
Schmid is the only coach the Sounders have ever had in their eight years in the league, but the move comes with Seattle mired in its worst season.
"We agreed it was a reasonable time to part ways," Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer said at a news conference. "That takes absolutely nothing away from what he has done for this club.
"He won a bunch of trophies for us, he won a lot of games, he had a lot of success. But the results just weren't there this year."
Seattle is in ninth place in the Western Conference, just a point above the bottom with 20 through as many games.
"Ultimately the club and Sigi agreed that a change was needed at this time, but Sigi's legacy will always be a part of our history," Hanauer said. "He has my sincere appreciation for all that he committed to our team and community."
Assistant Brian Schmetzer will take over as interim head coach. He has been affiliated with the Sounders at various times as either a player or a coach since signing out of high school with the then-North American Soccer League franchise in 1980. Prior to their joining MLS in 2009, he was head coach of the USL Sounders from 2002-08.
Speaking at media day ahead of Thursday's MLS All-Star Game, Sounders star Clint Dempsey told ESPN FC team would regroup without Schmid.
"I got a text earlier today about it. [Schmid] was a coach that did well in his career," Dempsey said. "His record speaks for itself, what he accomplished in MLS. He won MLS Cups and he was also able to do well at the collegiate level. I wish him the best."
Asked if he would have wanted Schmid to keep his job, Dempsey said: "That's not for me to decide. I just try to go in and help the team win. Whatever they feel is the best moving forward, you have to support that and try to turn things around."
Under Schmid, Seattle won the 2014 Supporters' Shield for the best regular-season record and the U.S. Open Cup four time, but the Sounders never won the MLS Cup despite reaching the playoffs every year.
Schmid previously won the MLS Cup with the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2002 and the Columbus Crew in 2008. He is the all-time MLS leader in regular-season wins with 228.
The 63-year-old thanked the club "for the opportunity to lead this club over the past eight years."
"I'm proud of the success we've achieved in winning five major trophies in Seattle, qualifying for the postseason for seven straight seasons," Schmid said.
"My only disappointment is that we were unable to bring home an MLS Cup to our tremendous fans, who have always been supportive through good times and bad."
Since a two-week break for the Copa America in June, the Sounders have lost five of their seven league games, with the only win coming in a 5-0 triumph over league-leading FC Dallas.
Dempsey blamed the Sounders' struggles on the departure of Obafemi Martins to the Chinese Super League before the season began.
"It's been a tough year for us. I had a good partnership with Oba, and when he left I don't think we replaced him in terms of his production in goals and assists," he said.
"We didn't bring in another [designated player], so it hurt us in the attacking third. I think we've been a team that has been lacking for goals there. Hopefully during the transfer window we can bring in an attacking player.
Schmid's final game was a 3-0 loss at Sporting Kansas City on Sunday in front of a national TV audience.
"The results obviously have not been great, and the performance in Kansas City was maybe a low point," Hanauer said. "There's no magic stopwatch on this that tells us when the right time is.''
On Monday night, defender Zach Scott, who gave the ball away for Sporting KC's third goal, responded to the team's critics in a series of messages on Twitter.
"Am I above criticism? No. Is anyone on the roster or in the [front office] above criticism for this godawful year? Not at all," he wrote. "In 15 seasons I've never experienced a season like this. But no excuses. I will never make excuses.
"Our roster is what it is. Good enough to win, yes. But have we done that?! Not at all. I'm not saying a miracle is gonna happen, but we aren't quitting. On each other. On our coaches. On our city.
"So please be as critical as you want. Yell at us as much as you want. Pull your hair out as much as you want. Because we'll do the same.
"Losing will never be just OK. Ever. And we will fight and claw and dig ourselves out of this hole together. Much love Seattle and all you TRUE Sounders fans out there."
ESPN FC's Jeff Carlisle contributed to this report.