The Seattle Sounders appear to have found Brian Schmetzer’s next Assistant Coach. According to The Athletic’s Sam Stejskal, Freddy Juarez has left his head coaching position after two years with RSL to join the Sounders.
Sources: Freddy Juarez is leaving RSL to join the Seattle Sounders as an assistant.— Sam Stejskal (@samstejskal) August 27, 2021
Seattle just lost two assistant coaches Gonzalo Pineda and Djimi Traore. Juarez was out of contract at the end of this year, RSL had option on him for 2022.
Brian Dunseth was the first to report that Juarez and RSL had agreed to end their relationship, while Stejskal had the Sounders aspect of the move about an hour later. Sounder at Heart was able to confirm the report independently.
Speculation on potential Sounders assistants largely had a local tint to it prior Friday morning. With such a focus on the Puget Sound, Garth Lagerwey’s network went overlooked. Freddy Juarez had worked under Lagerwey at RSL in one capacity or another from the time he first joined the club as an Academy coach in 2010 until Lagerwey became the Sounders GM in 2015. Lagerwey promoted Juarez from the academy to Head Coach of Real Monarchs in 2014, and new Sounders Sporting Director Craig Waibel made him an RSL Assistant Coach in 2016. Juarez was named RSL Interim Manager just over two years ago following the departure of Mike Petke, and had served without the interim tag since December of that year.
Juarez was in charge of RSL for 55 games, averaging 1.236 points per game. That’s not a performance that set the league on fire, but his side is largely considered to have over-performed relative to the quality of the roster. Juarez has significant experience working with and developing young talent, a key part of any RSL manager’s job, even if he tended to rely on more veteran experience towards the end of his tenure. The breadth of his experience seems to make him a perfect fit as a Sounders Assistant Coach, where he’ll help to keep the ship steady and guide the ever-expanding development pipeline.
Although Juarez has obvious and deep ties to Lagerwey and Waibel, he was one of the first people mentioned by Schmetzer as a potential candidate, a source said. In order to secure Juarez’s interview, the Sounders first had to get approval from RSL. One imagines that Juarez, who’s in the final year of his contract, probably sought some longterm assurances that weren’t in the offing. Still, that the Sounders even considered the possibility of hiring another MLS team’s head coach as an assistant probably speaks to a certain hierarchy.
Aside from potentially being sensitive about the perception that Lagerwey is sort of getting the RSL band back together, Juarez does seem to be something close to an ideal hire. He speaks Spanish, is well liked and is a soccer junkie, sometimes stepping in to run training sessions for the RSL academy.
“He just loves coaching,” the source said.