TUKWILA – Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid could hardly remember the last time he was home and not working on the Fourth of July.
“Probably 1998,” he said Thursday.
But this year he planned to break the 15-year drought and watch the fireworks in Bellevue.
Surely it’s no coincidence that 1998 was also the year before Schmid began coaching in MLS, and a decade and a half later the 60-year-old is set to become the first coach in league history to reach 400 regular-season games Saturday in Vancouver.
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Schmid has a career record of 179-123-97, having coached the Los Angeles Galaxy (1999-2004), the Columbus Crew (2006-08) and Seattle (2009-present). His win total is also a league record, and he won MLS Cups in 2002 and 2008.
“I feel very honored to get to 400 and to be the first one to get there,” Schmid said after win No. 179 Wednesday against D.C. United. “I would like it to be many, many more and I would like a few more titles along the way.”
The milestone comes as a bit of a surprise to Schmid, who didn’t join MLS until the league’s third season. As a successful college coach at UCLA from 1980-99, he nearly made the leap to the pros with the Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes in the early years — the league formed in 1996 — but timing and/or circumstances weren’t right until 1999.
Schmid knew his chance in MLS would come.
“You always feel confident you could do a good job,” he said. “For me, it was just a matter of wanting to have the opportunity to prove myself at that level, as well.”
And longevity has also been a credit to those around him.
“It’s certainly a reflection of some good teams and good players, and they’ve performed well,” Schmid said. “We’ve been able to figure out how to get the result more times than not, and that’s an important part of it.”
Team working on fan entry issues
The Sounders have two weeks before their next home game, which should be plenty of time to resolve an issue that had fans stuck in long lines outside CenturyLink Field before Wednesday’s game.
New security measures, mainly the use of handheld metal detectors, resulted in massive delays and a half-empty stadium at kickoff.
“We clearly didn’t have enough people dealing with the wanding,” said Adrian Hanauer, general manager and part owner, who noted that Seahawks and other teams use handheld metal detectors.
“It’s not rocket science, we just need to get it right.”
• Negotiations with midfielder Mario Martinez, whose loan deal expired Sunday, have stalled, according to Schmid. “I don’t think anything is moving on it at all,” he said, “so it’s probably becoming a dead issue or moving close to that.”
Hanauer added, “We’re still in communication, but I would agree with Sigi that things are looking less and less like (Martinez will) come back. But until he has a new team, until things are set in stone, I guess you never say never in these types of negotiations.”
The Sounders would retain Martinez’ rights within MLS if the 23-year-old Honduran national signed with a team in another league.