Like-minded Schmetzer will guide Sounders in Schmid's absence
During Sigi Schmid's one-game suspension, assistant coach Brian Schmetzer — a longtime coach of the lower-league Sounders — will serve as head coach.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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TUKWILA — While Sounders FC's head coach will be marching to the match instead of managing it, the hope is that little else will change for his team.
Sigi Schmid is suspended, sure, but Seattle will still have an experienced German coach — top assistant Brian Schmetzer — on the sideline for its regular-season home finale at 6 p.m. Sunday against FC Dallas.
"We've been here 3 ½ years," said Schmetzer, who coached the lower-league Sounders from 2002 to 2008. "I know what (Schmid) needs. I know what he wants. I've got a good feel for him.
"He's always given me the freedom to be who I am and coach."
Schmid has only missed one other game in Seattle — a 2-1 win over Houston on July 11, 2009 that was also coached by Schmetzer, and that was for his son's wedding.
"We have a good relationship, a good understanding," said Schmid. "Sometimes we have trouble deciphering whether great minds think alike or fools seldom differ — we all know which it is at times — but I think our thought processes are pretty similar, and I'm very confident in his ability to get (his message across) to the team."
The message is pretty clear with two games left in the regular season. The Sounders would likely clinch the Western Conference's No. 2 seed into the playoffs with wins Sunday and Oct. 28 on the road against the Los Angeles Galaxy.
If the Sounders win out, only a historically lopsided win by Real Salt Lake in the final weekend of the season could keep Seattle from the No. 2 seed by way of tiebreakers.
"We've got all the math figured out, so yeah, we talk about it," said Schmetzer. "This game is the next game, so that's the one that we're focused on. L.A.? That's a ways away."
Schmid's suspension is the third in his career and his first with the Sounders.
The coach had hoped only to be fined for his comments about referee Ricardo Salazar after Wednesday's 0-0 tie with Real Salt Lake, though he said he "probably went too far" in his criticism.
Schmid indicated he hoped the situation would force MLS to take a closer look at the league's standard of officiating, but he didn't think Salazar had anything personal against the Sounders — even if Schmid couldn't say the same.
"I certainly have to admit at times when I see his name as the referee, it's sort of like a red flag goes up in front of me, and I have to get over that," Schmid said.
Schmid had hoped to watch Sunday's game with the Emerald City Supporters in the south end of the stadium but was told that his suspension meant he couldn't be in the stands. Instead, he's expected to experience his first ever "March to the Match" before the game.
"I figured this might be a good occasion to be able to get out there and see how that is, because it always looks fantastic and exciting," Schmid said. "It's Fan Appreciation Day, it's our last regular-season home game, so from that standpoint, trying to get a positive out of the day."
• Fan Appreciation Day will include a number of giveaways throughout the game, including merchandise, memorabilia and concession vouchers.
• As a part of a leaguewide campaign for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the game will feature pink soccer balls, sideline towels, ribbon patches, sweatbands, shoelaces and goalkeeper gloves.
• When told some fans had offered to help pay his fine, Schmid said: "I appreciate that, and it's great that the support of the fans is so good. I'd rather have them donate that money to charity."
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org