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Why Sounder at Heart doesn’t call Brian Schmetzer “interim” head coach

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The quickest answer is because we aren’t beholden to official titles.

Sounders vs. Galaxy: Photos Photo credit - MikeRussellFoto

On the latest episode of Nos Audietis, during the introduction of head coach Brian Schmetzer you may have noticed the following exchange;

Jeremiah Oshan: Brian, obviously you’re the head coach of the Sounders right now -

Head Coach Brian Schmetzer [interrupting]: Interim

JO: I’m calling you the head coach. We’re not using interim.

That may seem odd. The Seattle Sounders are quite clear that Brian Schmetzer is the Interim Head Coach. One need only look at the video boards during the prematch announcements, or any press release, to see “interim” all over the place.

Sounder at Heart used that word in one article. That article was the official announcement, and it made sense. That was the team’s official stance on Schmetzer being merely a temporary caretaker of the club (something he says regularly and repeats during Nos Audietis).

But that was it.

At first it was not because of policy. We’re basically a bunch of lazy bloggers, so that extra word being written a lot was a burden. There were also likely unconscious decisions by various writers to not use the word. Later, after discussions among the staff, we decided to not use it as official policy.

Brian Schmetzer is the head coach of the Seattle Sounders.

There is no need to say interim. His role, right now, is to lead the team in an attempt to make the playoffs and eventually win another trophy, to help guide S2 and the Academy towards organizational developmental goals and to represent the organization in a public facing position as the #2 man the soccer organization.

None of that is interim for Schmetzer. It’s what he’s done since 2002. Sometimes it was done in a reduced capacity as merely the First Assistant (yes, that was his formal title from 2009 until he replaced Sigi Schmid). Schmetzer gives no indication that the position is something temporary that he desires to give up, though he also makes no indication that he will try to force President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey’s hands through anything beyond winning games and implementing his systems throughout the club.

The implication of using “interim” is that there is an intent to replace. A truism in sports is that every coach is an interim coach, even without the label as part of their title. No one is a coach for life (obvious extreme exceptions ignored).

Even if the Sounders called Brian Schmetzer the head coach that would not mean he’s the head coach beyond the terms of whatever contract he has. It would also not mean that he is assured of being the head coach even to the end of that contract.

Using interim gives a strong implication of weakness. It is fleeting and temporary. Brian Schmetzer is not fleeting and temporary. His passion and intellect have been dedicated to Seattle soccer for decades.

So, Sounder at Heart will not be using interim. While it is the proper title for his position, as he does not have a formal contract as the head coach, we are not concerned with his contractual obligations. We, like Brian Schmetzer, are Sounders at Heart and he is the head coach of the team, so that’s what we will call him.

The next time that Sounder at Heart uses “interim” to describe head coach Brian Schmetzer is when the organization officially removes the tag. That could be because they hire another person to be the head coach, or because Lagerwey & Co. make the decision that Brian Schmetzer’s contract now says “Head Coach.”