SEATTLE — Over 15 years after taking his first coaching job in Major League Soccer, Sigi Schmid earned his 200th regular-season win on Sunday, becoming the first manager to reach the plateau in league history. His Seattle Sounders defeated the Houston Dynamo, 2-0, in front of 50,276 at CenturyLink Field for his 223rd overall MLS victory.
“Coaching a long time, and it’s fantastic to finally get it because I was starting to wonder if we were going to get it,” Schmid said wryly in his post-game press conference. “It’s a reflection of -- I’ve had a lot of great players that have played for me. It’s great if this can be the year I can get 200 that’s part of even bigger success at the end of the year.”
He was already No. 1 on the regular-season wins list among MLS coaches, but it will take at least four playoff victories to overtake LA Galaxy manager Bruce Arena’s postseason total, depending how deep into November (and perhaps December) each coach’s team plays.
It was with the Galaxy that Schmid started his MLS odyssey, taking over from Octavio Zambrano five games into the 1999 season. His first two games were 1-0 wins over San Jose and New York, part of a 17-9 run that catapulted the Galaxy from fifth in the West to top of the conference and second place in the league.
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Schmid won MLS Coach of the Year honors that year, and LA lost to D.C. United in the MLS Cup final, 2-0. He won the 2002 MLS Cup with LA before earning his next award as the league’s best manager in 2008, when he also won his second MLS Cup with the Columbus Crew.
After success in LA and Columbus, Schmid became the Sounders’ first MLS coach ahead of their expansion 2009 season. Under Schmid, Seattle won three U.S. Open Cup titles in a row starting in its first season as an MLS franchise.
As a college and MLS coach, Schmid has found success at multiple levels of the American game. At UCLA, he won NCAA College Cups in 1985, 1990 and 1997 before leading the United States Under-20 national team in the 1999 and 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship tournaments. He was also Bora Milutinović’s assistant coach for the senior team at the 1994 World Cup.
Despite coming under fire for the way Seattle has crashed out of the MLS playoffs in the last three seasons, suffering blowout losses to Real Salt Lake, LA and the Portland Timbers, Schmid survived to coach at least one more year in Seattle.
The Sounders celebrated Schmid’s milestone victory by jumping into first place in the Supporters’ Shield standings despite playing two fewer matches than its next two competitors. The 200th regular-season win of his professional career is an undoubtedly impressive achievement, but it still seems he won’t be happy unless the team finishes with an elusive MLS Cup title.
“It can still get better,” he said.