Sigi Schmid is out in Seattle. It’s still a bit of a shock – Schmid is the only coach the MLS version of the Sounders ever had is no more. There’s no arguing this has been the team’s worst season under Schmid’s leadership. The Sounders are second-to-last in the Western Conference and the club’s playoff hopes are fading fast in a league where more than half the teams make the playoffs. You can argue about whether Schmid deserved to go or about the timing of the move. In reality, this exit was inevitable once Garth Lagerwey was hired.
Throughout his tenure, you got the sense Sigi Schmid wasn’t simply the coach. The way he and former GM Adrian Hanauer discussed players and it transfers made it seem like Sigi handled most of the personnel decisions like identifying potential signings, making trades and MLS Superdraft decisions. Adrian Hanauer’s role as GM always felt like it was to handle the politics (negotiations with other GMs) and make sure the numbers worked with the salary cap. That’s not how Garth Lagerwey works and his quotes in the wake of Sigi’s dismissal seem to confirm as much.
Just how many moves didn’t happen because of this difference of opinion, we’ll never know. But now Lagerwey the responsibility of rebuilding the team falls very squarely on Lagerwey’s shoulders. There were plenty of people who argued Schmid should finish out the season out of respect for his service to the team. That’s a nice thought, but doing that only serves to hamstring Lagerwey’s rebuild for another two months.
The former Real Salt Lake GM was hired for more than just retooling the first team. Lagerwey was brought in to build the Sounders’ academy and youth system and oversee the implementation of the club’s USL side. All those are important responsibilities, to be sure. But Lagerwey is a home run hire. You don’t bring him in to sit on the sidelines and make a few tweaks to the youth setup. He’s in the Emerald City to win an MLS Cup, a trophy that Schmid’s inability to capture in Seattle undoubtedly contributed to his being let go.
So now begins life after Sigi for Seattle. It will be interesting to see what players are immediately moved or shopped, creating inevitable speculation whether they were some of decisions Lagerwey deferred. As Will Parchman aptly pointed out on Twitter, the Sounders’ situation bears a similarity to Lagerwey’s tenure in RSL. He now has the rest of the season to wheel and deal as he sees fit much like he did with RSL in 2007.
Lagerwey has his No. 10 in Nicolas Lodeiro similar to when he signed Javi Morales with RSL. He’s got Alvaro Fernandez coming in as well. Clint Dempsey is still on the roster and there’s plenty of quality, young talent headlined by Jordan Morris. Lagerwey should be able to get this team turned around. Make no mistake, Lagerwey just had his “I am the captain now” moment. This is his team, his roster to reshape and Seattle’s demanding fan base won’t wait long for a turnaround.