Few coaches in American soccer can match Brian Schmetzer’s resumé. Not only does he have the best career winning percentage (.608) of anyone with at least 70 MLS matches under their belt and rank third all-time with two MLS Cups (while pushing for another), but he’s even got a couple USL titles where he also won 100 regular-season games.
Despite all his past and ongoing success, Schmetzer will be out of contract at the end of the month. That he deserves an extension should be beyond obvious and all public signs point to it getting done sooner or later.
While generally acknowledging that Schmetzer has done a masterful job and clearly deserves an extension, during Thursday’s pregame show the Fox Soccer crew did openly wonder how he might do if he were to coach another team. Alexi Lalas, in particular, expressed some doubt.
"Is he a good coach in Seattle, or is he just a good coach?"— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) December 4, 2020
With Brian Schmetzer's contract expiring this month, @RobStoneONFOX, @AlexiLalas and @stuholden discuss what his future holds. pic.twitter.com/SRoBIUNuNf
“Pay the man his money,” Lalas said before adding, “and if you don’t, it’s because you don’t necessarily think it’s all about him when it comes to Seattle and you think you could be maybe more successful with someone else. That’s the big question, especially when you look at the possibility of a Brian Schmetzer someplace else.
“All of his success has come in Seattle, and it’s been wonderful and he deserves praise. If you’re looking at a possible Brian Schmetzer somewhere else, you have to ask yourself ‘is he a good coach in Seattle or is he just a good coach?’”
Fellow studio analyst Stu Holden then asked Lalas that exact question.
“I think he’s a good coach in Seattle,” Lalas said. “I would think long and hard about [it] before hiring Brian Schmetzer anywhere else.”
While that’s not exactly the harshest criticism, it’s at the very least a bit condescending toward a coach who has suffered one losing season during his 12 as head coach of either a MLS or USL team. But it also fits a pattern. Dating back to 2016, Lalas has long urged the the Sounders to do more of a worldwide search befitting their theoretical “superclub” ambitions.
It should probably go without saying that a coach doesn’t achieve Schmetzer’s record without being very good at what he does. Just because he doesn’t insist on showing off to reporters at every possible chance shouldn’t diminish his coaching nous.
When presented with an opportunity to respond to Lalas’ comments, Schmetzer responded in his trademark style.
“Everyone has an opinion,” Schmetzer said. “He’s certainly entitled to his. I certainly have a ton of confidence in myself, in my staff, in my players, in the medical staff, in the scouting department, everyone who’s associated with this club. If I move on at some point in time, I certainly believe I could do a good job somewhere else, but I don’t really don’t want to.
“I can’t control what comes out of other people’s broadcasts. We listen to that. I heard it. My mom was upset, you can say that. It’s just part of what they do. That’s his opinion.”
As confident as he may be in his abilities to succeed anywhere, Schmetzer also seemed to acknowledge that he’d remain personally fulfilled even if he never gets to test that theory.
“I am a Seattleite,” he said. “I am immensely proud of our city, of the Pacific Northwest. I’ve mentioned the Seahawks, Sonics, Mariners, I would be remiss not to say the Storm. People are talking about dynasties, we have a dynasty right here in the city of Seattle.
“There’s a lot of things I’m proud of being from the city of Seattle. Whether I go somewhere or whether I stay here, I’ll always have that little tug of nostalgia that I’m a guy from Seattle who enjoys all of the beautiful things we have.”
And that’s why we love Brian.