While it wasn’t the biggest surprise on Earth, today’s big announcement that Seattle Sounders FC was “mutually parting ways” with head coach Sigi Schmid whipped up quite a storm. Sounders majority owner Adrian Hanauer, who is close friends with Schmid, said that it was a difficult decision but “it was a reasonable time to part ways.”
Last weekend’s league result in Kansas City wasn’t the ultimate moment of decision according to Hanauer, but rather just a low point in a season full of them. “It’s hard to see a game like that and not have it affect you in some way,” Hanauer said, “but this wasn’t a knee-jerk decision based on a single game.”
With the Sounders mired in the worst season in their MLS history, Hanauer admits that the decision to part ways with Schmid was a “continual” conversation throughout the season. “As results go, as pressure grows, those conversations become more serious and more urgent and they had been building this year and we sat down and decided the time was right.”
Hanauer stressed his opinion that “coaches get too much credit for wins and too much blame for losses,” but conceded that it’s just part of the business. And despite Schmid’s many, many accomplishments with Seattle, Hanauer said that “the results just weren’t there this year.” He said “there’s no magic stopwatch on this that tells us when the right time” is to make such a big decision, but that after conversations with others in the front office, “it wasn’t my decision alone, but I take the lead on that and decided this was the right time.”
Hanauer was also quick to accept blame as a representative of the Sounders organization as a whole: “We win and lose as an organization, so this was a move we felt made sense, but doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods or that by some magic formula we’ll go on a seven-game unbeaten run. It doesn’t work that way.” He said the entire organization needs to dig itself out of the hole it’s in, and he hopes the shake-up at the top would be the right motivation.
While Hanauer’s leadership of the organization is rooted in an emotional attachment to the club, he often approaches decisions like the businessman that he is. But this was an emotional day and decision for him: “It will be tough, it will be emotional for me. Sigi is a fantastic coach, but also a great man and human being.”