Brian Schmetzer is here to stay.
The Seattle Sounders front office announced today they were officially removing the interim tag from Schmetzer’s title. That will continue a remarkable level of coaching stability, as he and Sigi Schmid are the only two head coaches this organization has had since 2002. Schmetzer, who was the top assistant coach since 2009, took over the team on an interim basis after Schmid and the Sounders "mutually parted ways" on July 26.
Although the Sounders likely could have made a splashier hire, Schmetzer’s resume was going to be hard to beat. When he took over from Schmid, the Sounders were in 9th place in the Western Conference (10 points from the playoff line). They finished in fourth after going 8-2-4 to finish the regular season. Schmetzer followed that up with a pair of wins in the MLS Cup playoffs, including a 3-0 win over Supporters’ Shield-winning FC Dallas in the first leg of the Western Conference semifinals.
As calls to remove the interim tag grew louder — both from fans and players — the organization clearly felt strong enough to make the move regardless of whether or not they go any further in this year’s playoffs.
This is Schmetzer’s second turn as Sounders head coach, but his involvement with the organization goes back even further. Schmetzer first signed with the NASL Sounders in 1980 as a 17-year-old Nathan Hale High School senior. After a 15-year playing career that took him all over the country, Schmetzer worked as an assistant with the indoor Tacoma Stars and Seattle SeaDogs before finally getting the head coaching gig with the USL Sounders in 2002. Under his guidance, the Sounders won two Commissioner’s Cups (equivalent to the Supporters’ Shield) and two USL titles. The Sounders also advanced to the U.S. Open Cup semifinals in 2007 and 2008, the last time a lower-division team has advanced that far.
After the Sounders became an MLS expansion club, Schmetzer was considered but eventually lost the head coach job to Sigi Schmid. Schmetzer was the First Assistant Coach of the MLS Sounders from 2009 until July 26.
Schmetzer has maintained all along that he is merely a caretaker of the club, but it’s hard to imagine anyone doing a better job than he’s done.