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It’s official: Brian Schmetzer is horribly underrated

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Sounders boss finishes outside the Top 6 in MLS Coach of the Year voting.

At least he upgraded his suit game this year.
Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

Brian Schmetzer was not named MLS Coach of the Year. That honor goes to Greg Vanney, who guided Toronto FC to arguably the best regular season in MLS history. He beat out Tata Martino, who guided Atlanta United to arguably the best expansion season during the league’s “mature” era.

None of this is particularly surprising of course. Schmetzer was not among the three finalists when they were announced a few weeks ago, and Vanney and Martino were both part of historic seasons.

What was somewhat surprising was that Schmetzer wasn’t even among the Top 6!

Although we don’t have any data beyond what is shared here, it would appear that Schmetzer likely received less than 2 percent of the overall vote.

On some level, this makes sense. Voters are only asked to pick their top two candidates for the award and Vanney and Martino clearly dominated. The voting also happened toward the end of the regular season, before the Sounders looked like they might be making a run to defend their MLS Cup.

That this comes a year after Schmetzer engineered what was undoubtedly the greatest midseason turnaround in MLS history, and somehow wasn’t even a finalist for the award (MLS didn’t release voting results beyond the Top 3), suggests that Schmetzer might simply be underrated.

That follows what seems to be his modus operandi. Prior to being hired as Sounders coach, Schmetzer had only even interviewed for two other MLS jobs despite having one of the best resumes of any assistant coach in the league. At 55, Schmetzer is hardly an old man by coaching standards, but no one is going to call him “up and coming” either. There’s also a perception that the Sounders aren’t doing anything particularly special with the talent they have.

And frankly, all of this is fine. No one needs to call Schmetzer a genius or to even vote for him as coach of the year. What I know of Schmetzer suggests he’s not losing any sleep over these slights.

But let’s not let that stop us from appreciating what we have. A year after leading the Sounders to a title after losing his best offensive player for the year, Schmetzer has his team on track to potentially repeat despite plenty of speed bumps. He was able to re-integrate Clint Dempsey into the locker room without any outward disruption; he never panicked after the slow start carried into the summer; he managed Joevin Jones’ unexcused absence flawlessly, to the point that he’s now one of the team’s leading contributors. Schmetzer has done this while empowering assistants to grow their roles and players to mostly police themselves. He might not get much attention for coach of the year, but he’s just about perfect the job he has.