The Seattle Sounders and Sigi Schmid have parted ways after some eight years together. But both coach and club will live long in one another’s memories, as Schmid made clear in an emotional farewell speech to Sounders fans on Thursday.
Seattle’s Emerald City Supporters group hosted a send-off event for their beloved head coach in the downtown Pioneer Square neighborhood on Thursday, and the man himself had to hold back the tears when called to address the crowd in a speech recorded and published by the Seattle Times (watch here).
Calling his time in charge of the Rave Green “the best soccer experience that I’ve been able to be a part of as a coach,” Schmid said he would always keep a special place for the club in his heart, and thanked the fans for their loyalty and dedication even when the chips were down.
He admitted regret at the team’s inability to scale the final summit and claim an MLS Cup title in addition to their US Open Cup and Supporters’ Shield hardware. But Schmid predicted a quick return to competitiveness as new acquisitions Nicolas Lodeiro and Alvaro Fernandez and long-injured defender Gabriel Torres bolster the ninth-place Sounders in the weeks ahead.
Here is the full transcript of Schmid’s speech:
“I thought it would be a little easier. It’s not easy. The main thing that made my time here in Seattle so special was you guys — you guys and your support. Coaching in LA, sometimes even if you had a good game, if you took a late goal, you’d get abused as you came off the field. You guys were always there. You guys were always supportive. You guys were always behind us, certainly when we performed well, but you were also there to support us when we didn’t perform as well. And that’s something that’s unusual, and unique, and something that makes you special fans.
“I know we didn’t get the MLS Cup. There’s nothing I wanted to do more than to be involved in a parade going around this city. But we won four Open Cups, we won a Supporters’ Shield, seven straight playoffs. I think only the Galaxy has won more trophies than we have in that period of time. But leaving, and having this come to an end – I had always hoped that I could sort of leave on my own terms when I left here. But it was definitely unique and special and I’ll always remember it. And I wish it could have gone on and on.
“I think very deeply with the new players coming on board – and that was difficult, because I’d talked to [Alvaro] Fernandez and [Nicolas] Lodeiro and talking to [manager] Guillermo Schelotto at Boca, it was very important for him coming up here as well. With those guys and with [Roman] Torres hopefully within three weeks or so getting back in the fold, that’s going to make a huge difference to the team and how they play.
“One of the things that I said earlier to someone is, one of my philosophies as a coach – which I didn’t really say a lot of – is always that the better you are in training, the better you are in games. The higher your quality is in training, the better you become in games. This year unfortunately, due to injuries, due to players leaving, due to some of the changes we made, the quality of the training was not as strong as it had been. And so we were struggling with that. And we were trying to get better all the time. And with these three new guys coming on board, that’s going to raise the level of training. And hopefully Brian Schmetzer, who has been a great assistant, will be given the opportunity to do it his way. And hopefully his way will allow the team to continue to grow and to continue to go forward.
“But the most important thing here is to thank you from my side, from my wife, from my family and everyone, for all the support, all the love, all the care that you exuded every time we stepped on the field. Seattle will always have a soft spot in my heart. I’ll always be a Sounders fan. Sunday might be tough to watch, if I’m being very honest. But this is the best soccer experience that I’ve been able to be a part of as a coach. And it will always be special, it will always be unique. And I wish it could’ve gone on a little bit longer. But thank you for everything. I’ll never forget you.”