With news down south that the Portland Timbers have fired coach John Spencer, Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid was asked a few questions along those lines.
I asked Schmid if he ever felt like the coaching seat was getting hot in reference to the team’s recent nine-game MLS winless streak, a franchise-worst run. He answered by saying he’s mainly the one that makes it feel hot:
“My wife gets always upset with me,” Schmid said, “because if we don’t win in two-, three games, I’m the one who’s always saying, ‘Look, I could get fired the next game,’ (and she says), ‘How can you talk like that?’ I go, ‘That’s the way I am.’ I never feel 100-percent secure. I always feel the bags are packed and the exit’s there. And for me that works because I think it keeps me motivated and keeps me sharp.
“When we really got in this (winless) streak, we really had to break it down and analyze it and say, ‘What do we need?’ The first thing we hit upon was, ‘We’ve got to get tougher again. We’ve got to become difficult. We’ve got to have our mentality.’ I kept saying we’ve got to get our mentality right and the soccer will catch up, and I think on Saturday night the soccer caught up a little bit. So now we’ve got to continue to work in that direction.
“But I put more pressure on myself than anybody. When I first got into coaching I said I could never imagine being a coach anywhere of a team that’s solid, consistently .500, and just being happy and content with that. It would just drive me nuts.”
It was pointed out to Schmid that three younger teams — Philadelphia, Vancouver and Portland — have already made coaching changes. So what does that say about the stability in Seattle?
“I think you need stability,” Schmid said, “and if you believe in what you’re trying to do and the plan, you’ve got to believe in it. Any coach isn’t a good coach for three months and then all of a sudden in three weeks becomes a bad coach. So you have to look at that. Now, there’s a lot of factors that go in to changes and that’s something that ownership always has to determine. But at the end of the day, being able to stick to a plan, being able to have some consistency without complacency – I think if you become complacent, it’s not a good situation, and I don’t think we ever become complacent here – but having consistency in terms of a steady approach, having an idea of how we want to be and what we want to be as a team, how we want to play and maintaining that in our DNA is really important, and I think that’s something we’ve done well.”
The followup question was: Is this team more stable or have you not given officials a reason to fire you?
“Hopefully a little bit of both,” Schmid said. “I think we’re more stable, for sure. This time around (with the winless streak) was probably close. At the end, I think we have good trust in each other and we have good belief in each other. … I believe in (general manager and part owner Adrian Hanauer) and I know he believes in me. Having that understanding and having that trust makes it a lot easier to operate. So you can disagree, but you still know that there’s trust in each other, and that makes any working relationship — from boss to employer to employee — that much better.”