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Brian Schmetzer officially extends contract

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This will be Schmetzer’s 20th season as a Sounders coach.

Kayla Mehring / Sounder at Heart

The most successful coach in Seattle Sounders history will be sticking around for a while longer. Nearly a month after his prior contract ran out, the Sounders officially announced on Monday that Brian Schmetzer has been re-signed a new contract through at least 2023. Schmetzer saiid he was expecting his assistants to also all be back, but some details were still being finalized.

Schmetzer’s new contract will extend one of the longest relationships in North American soccer history to at least 20 years, having begun in 2002 when he was first hired as head coach of the USL team. Along the way, Schmetzer has delivered four league titles — two in USL and two in MLS — and taken the Sounders to four MLS Cup finals. Schmetzer’s .608 career winning percentage ranks as the best among any head coach with at least 70 games and his .762 playoff winning percentage is easily the best in MLS history.

“Brian Schmetzer and I have an almost 20-year history of working together,” Sounders majority owner Adrian Hanauer said in a team statement. “Although I never doubted Brian would be back in 2021 and beyond, I am grateful that he will continue to lead Sounders FC for years to come.

“Brian cares deeply for our club and community, he has a deep understanding of our culture and traditions, and no one is better poised to build upon the organization’s recent success.”

Although Schmetzer had expressed some frustrations with the pace of negotiations toward the end of the season, GM Garth Lagerwey never betrayed any doubts about his intention to bring back the Seattle native.

“It is with great pride that I will be able to continue coaching a club with such a rich history, winning tradition and positive community influence,” Schmetzer said in a team release. “I’d like to thank club ownership for this opportunity, as well as all of the current and former players, coaches and staff that have helped build something here I’m very proud of. Lastly, I’d like to thank the fans, who fuel everything we do inside of this club. Seattle is my home and I couldn’t be happier to be staying put.”

The job facing Schmetzer in 2021 is shaping up to be an interesting one. While the Sounders will bring back a spine that is among the most talented and accomplished in the league, there are significant questions about the wide positions. Neither of the starting wingers from MLS Cup are expected to be back and Alex Roldan is still a relatively inexperienced right back.

These roster changes could prompt Schmetzer to veer away from his trusted 4-2-3-1 that he’s used in virtually every match since taking over for Sigi Schmid in the summer of 2016.

Schmetzer mentioned the possibility that the team could switch to a two-forward set in order to get both Raúl Ruidíaz and Will Bruin on the field together, at least part of the time.

“We’ll wait and see,” Schmetzer said, specifically mentioning the possibility of a 3-5-2 or 5-3-2 formation. “I’ve toyed with that for awhile, trying to get two forwards up top and get Will bruin more playing time. If we do it, when we do it, that will be decided in preseason. It would be handy to have a separate formation. I’m naturally pretty conservative with my coaching. But there’s no reason we can’t experiment a little bit and see what the first half of the season looks like without Jordan Morris.”

In the video talking about his extension, Schmetzer mentioned the possibility of coaching “a couple more years” and then moving into scouting. Asked about that comment, Schmetzer suggested it wasn’t to be taken entirely literally and that he has no timetable on how much longer he’d like to coach.

“I’d love to end my career as a Seattle Sounder,” he said. “How and where, maybe I can be a ball kid or something. Hopefully, I can be a Sounder for life.”