MLS Coaching School

There was a nice symmetry yesterday as the Crew named Sigi Schmid's replacement in Columbus and Seattle hired Sigi Schmid's replacement in Seattle.

Back in late 2005 a lot of people felt that Robert Warzycha should have gotten the Crew job. He'd been with the team since it's very first year, had a winning record as the interim coach and, perhaps most of all, he was a Crew guy down to his socks, a yellow-and-black bleeding organization guy whose entire professional identity was hopelessly intertwined with Columbus..

But then, out of the blue, they hired Sigi and even Bob's most ardent supporters had to admit that you don't pass a guy like that up. Warzycha could wait his turn.

Fast forward to 2008 and Seattle is looking to hire a head coach. A lot of people felt that Brian Schmetzer should get the job. He signed with the Original Seattle Sounders (NASL) straight out of High School and despite bouncing around that league - as pretty much everyone did - he always seemed to end up back there with whatever team someone fielded, be it FC Seattle, the APSL incarnation of the Sounders and even the late, lamented Seattle Salty Dogs before ending up coaching the USL Sounders since 2002. The guy is Seattle soccer down to his socks.

Warzycha spent three years as assistant coach for Greg Andrulis, one of the worst excuses for a coach in US professional history. Schmetzer spent three years as an assistant coach for Fernando Clavijo, one of the worst excuses for a coach in US soccer history.

Somehow, both of them managed to keep the stench from sticking.

When Columbus hired Schmid instead of Warzycha, it was mainly because of his lack of MLS head coaching experience. Everyone understood that Sigi was a hired gun, brought in to build a winning organization but with no particular team loyalty or an expectation that he'd be there forever, and that when he left - as everyone knew he would - the job would be Robert's.

Seattle just hired Schmid with pretty much the same goal in mind and the same expectations. Nobody expects the guy to bleed Sounder blue and Rave green. He's the Pro from Dover, come to get things off right. But nobody expects him to stick around forever and when he finally moves along - be it in six months or six years - I can't believe there's much doubt that Schmetzer will get the nod.

In 2005 Robert Warzycha was fully prepared and amply qualified to take over the Crew, but no one would argue that three years sitting next to Sigi Schmid hasn't made him even more so.

In 2008 Brian Schmetzer is fully prepared and amply qualified to take over the Sounders, but after a few years sitting next to Sigi....well, you get the idea.

Perhaps most importantly, it took a coach of enormous reputation and unquestionable credentials for guys like Warzycha and Schmetzer to be able to take the number two spot without also taking a massive ego hit. There aren't five guys in the whole country who would be offended at being told they weren't as qualified as Sigi Schmid to run an MLS team.

We have a pretty good idea of how well Schmid does developing players. The next thing we should watch is how well he does developing MLS coaches.

If he's as good at that as he is the rest of the job, his legacy in American soccer will be unmatched.