The Seattle Sounders often say that they are a family. They talk about bringing memorable moments to the community, and making a lasting impression. One of those moments should be burned in your soul long after memories of FC Cincinnati fade. It wasn’t when Jordan Morris scored his first, but instead when they honored his first professional coach — Sigi Schmid.
The club is not done honoring Sigi, but last night was a great step in recognizing the legacy of a grand man. His family could have been in LA for the Galaxy match, where a moment was held for Sigi as well. Instead they were here, greeted to “Sigi, Sigi, Sigi — Oi, oi, oi” as we did a couple hundred times.
They marched up the red carpet. Some were stoic. Some were in awe of CenturyLink Field. Some were heartbroken knowing that their father, their uncle, their brother, their husband was no longer here.
At the end of that carpet was the most important Golden Scarf ceremony in Sounders history. I have received a Golden Scarf, as well as given one away, but Saturday night’s ceremony was so much more than either of those evenings. It was a ceremonial - and then real - hug between Adrian Hanauer and Valerie Schmid. Adrian’s embrace of Valerie was the embrace of all 39,011 (because yes, even FCC fans should love Sigi).
After that moment the Schmid family stood with the ‘09ers. It was Sigi and they who helped us realize that soccer is a major sport in Seattle.
The varied emotions in that photo are perfect. That’s how families react to pain. Kurt Schmid stands stoic and proud. A statue upon which his children can lean. Valerie is open, caring, fully sharing her mix of sorrow and joy and honor. The players’ faces are also perfect. Some were with Sigi for only a year, others talked to him into his final months.
Sigi wasn’t known as a players’ coach. But his players tended to love him anyway. Look at Jordan and Chad’s faces as the stadium goes silent.
Moment of silence for Sigi. pic.twitter.com/9YUscZOeGL— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) March 3, 2019
“He made such a big impact in my life. His family was close with my family; fortunately I was lucky enough to attend the funeral, I was happy I was able to do that. To have that celebration for him tonight,” Jordan Morris said postgame. “You realize what’s important in life. For me it was just an honor to be part of this night to honor Sigi because he was an amazing man, an amazing person and made such a big impact in my life and so many others. We’re going to miss him.”
Jordan is right. We’re going to miss Sigi. US soccer is going to miss Sigi, but especially us Sounders, the Galaxy, the Crew and the Bruins. There will not be another Sigi Schmid.
As is typical when things bigger than soccer occur, Brian Schmetzer started his press conference not by talking about the win, but instead about Sigi, his friend and mentor.
“I think we honored someone we all cared about tonight prior to the game. Sigi’s passing was certainly a sad day for all of us and I just want to go on the record today and say we will miss him, and he was a great friend. So thank you.”
I guess I just want to — as I borrow a phrase from Brian — go on record and say that we must always remember our legends when they are among us, and then remember them again at every opportunity. Remember them now, and remember them in the future when you consider the history and success of the club they have helped build.
ECS did Sigi right as well. Sigi’s silhouette adorned the capo stand. The players wore armbands. It was a perfect memory. Saturday night’s honoring of Sigi Schmid was an excellent reminder that we are all Sounders, and that’s about more than just soccer.