Sounders consider Sigi Schmid’s future with the team
Sounders FC ownership will sit down with Sigi Schmid in the next few days to discuss the coach’s future. A decision is expected to be made within two to three weeks.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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The Sounders have entered the first week of their offseason with coach Sigi Schmid leading the preparations for 2014.
Sounds pretty normal, except for the fact that he hasn’t been given any assurances he’ll still have his job next year.
General manager and part owner Adrian Hanauer said in a conference call Monday that the team is currently evaluating everyone in the organization — including Schmid — and that a decision regarding their coach might take another two to three weeks.
Hanauer, Schmid and majority owner Joe Roth are expected to talk in the next few days to see if they are still on the same page philosophically and share mutual support.
Never in Seattle has Schmid been under so much scrutiny, even from within the team.
“There are a lot of big decisions that ownership has to make over this offseason,” said Hanauer, “and we will take our time, be methodical, be rational, and hopefully not make emotional decisions based on the pain and frustration of losing a playoff series like we did to Portland.”
“We’re not in any massive hurry to make quick decisions. We just want to make the right decisions and get things back on track.”
When it comes to a season that fell well short of expectations, Hanauer insisted there is plenty of blame to go around. He called it the most frustrating of Sounders FC’s five seasons in MLS and perhaps the most frustrating of the 12 years since he got involved with the lower-league Sounders.
The state of the locker room has been better in previous years, Hanauer added, noting early and late-season struggles made things tense within the team. Issues went higher up the ladder than coach, as well.
“Ultimately, it’s my organization,” Hanauer said, giving the year a B-minus grade. “I don’t see that many fingers pointing at me, which, to be honest, kind of frustrates me.”
Resolving Schmid’s status is just one of several issues this offseason, and Hanauer indicated there could be significant player turnover to clear salary-cap space and make requisite improvements for a title run.
Even still, all attention is on Schmid, a two-time MLS coach of the year and two-time MLS Cup champion with previous teams. The 60-year-old has been the franchise’s only coach and received a contract extension in 2011 but has only once led the Sounders out of the conference semifinals.
“There is no questioning Sigi’s résumé,” Hanauer said. “He is a winner. I don’t agree with everything he does, but he does 100 things well for the few that I may not agree with. You start switching coaches, you can get caught in a revolving door pretty quickly. I understand the emotional catharsis some people have over being able to blame someone ... but my job is to weed through what really rationally is the best decision.”
The impatience of a fan base that has given the Sounders record support the past five years is felt, as well.
“It feels like there is more pressure in this town to win a championship than any other town,” Hanauer said.
• The U.S. men’s national team has called in Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson and Brad Evans for exhibitions against Scotland on Friday and Austria on Nov. 19.
• Hanauer said Dempsey, Evans and Osvaldo Alonso will be the leadership core of the team. That indicates the team has intentions of re-signing Evans, whose contract is up, and perhaps not bringing back Mauro Rosales, who served as captain for most of the season.
• Dempsey could go out on an offseason loan, maybe back to the English Premier League, as was negotiated into his contract leading into the World Cup. “We won’t be surprised if that happens,” said Hanauer, who noted Dempsey and his agent are looking at options.
• Regarding Johnson’s future, Hanauer said the forward has one more option year, but “I’ve been made pretty aware that that’s probably not a salary that he wants to play at,” an apparent reference to Johnson’s “Pay me!” celebration from earlier in the year and continued feelings.
• The Sounders have until Dec. 1 to exercise team options on player contracts.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @joshuamayers.