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Brian Schmetzer gets first extended shot on big stage

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Sounders interim head coach has been involved with team through every iteration.

Photos: Sounders vs. Earthquakes Mike Russell

There probably isn’t a person on earth more closely tied to the Seattle Sounders than Brian Schmetzer. Since first signing with the NASL team straight out of high school in 1980, the Seattle native has served as a player or coach for literally every iteration of the team — not to mention just about every other professional soccer team to call the area home.

Now, he’ll get a chance to make his biggest impact yet as Sigi Schmid’s replacement.

“I’ve known and worked with Brian for 15-plus years,” Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer told the media on Tuesday. “I guess the thing I’d say about Brian is that no one loves this club more. I know that every decision he makes will be about the club and the club’s success. There’s no individualism about his methods, it’s all about the team and the club. He’s had great success as a head coach, he’s been a fantastic assistant and I’m excited to see him get a shot.”

Officially, Schmetzer will carry the title of “interim head coach.” But more informally he might be called a “head coach trialist.” Hanauer said Schmetzer would get serious consideration for the permanent position and that how the team finishes out the final 14 games of the regular season will be part of the consideration.

Schmetzer had a more eloquent title for himself, though: Steward.

“The biggest thing for me is if you look at the line of coaches — John Best, Jimmy Gabriel, Alan Hinton, Bernie James, myself, Sigi — we’re all just stewards of the club,” Schmetzer said. “What we have here is the club. The club is always going to be here. We just have a chance to work with super soccer players, good bosses and good individuals like you. That’s a good part of it.

“The club is basically the players and fans and their relationship. That’s what we all have to keep in mind with the departure of Sigi. We applaud him for what he accomplished, and it’s my turn now. I’m just a steward of the club, no matter how long I’m here — and I hope to be here a long time — but I’m going to do the best job I can to have the Sounders have success.”

Schmetzer didn’t indicate any kind of wholesale changes, suggesting that the natural bump in effort a new coach brings coupled with an emphasis on holding everyone accountable would be enough to get the Sounders back into the playoff chase.

Mainly, though, he just seemed intent on leaving the club in a better spot than it is now.

“My own personal feelings are that I’m going to do everything humanly possible to win games, to push us into playoffs, and whatever happens at the end of the day, I’m very pragmatic, I will turn up OK.”