Los Angeles, Calif. — Sigi Schmid, a pioneer of soccer in the United States of America, has passed away.
At the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, Schmid passed away after being hospitalized three weeks ago. The initial hospitalization was due to heart problems. His cause of death was no revealed to the public.
Schmid passed away on Christmas day.
Born in Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg, West Germany, Schmid moved to California when he was a young child. He began his coaching career five years after wrapping up a collegiate career at the University of California, Los Angeles, coaching in 1980. He remained at UCLA until 1999, winning three NCAA Championship titles.
During his coaching days at UCLA, he also coached the United States U-20 National Team from 1998-99. In 1999, he began his professional coaching career, joining the Los Angeles Galaxy. He remained with the Galaxy until 2004.
During his time with the Galaxy, he won the MLS Coach of the Year during his first season. The Galaxy made it to the MLS Cup final in Schmid’s first season, but fell to D.C. United. The following season, the Galaxy won the CONCACAF Champion’s League cup, defeating Club Deportivo Olimpia, a club from Honduras.
In 2001, the Galaxy won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, but fell in the MLS Cup to the San Jose Earthquakes. The club’s first MLS Cup title came in 2002, with the Galaxy defeating the New England Revolution.
After his departure from the Galaxy in 2004, Schmid went back to coaching the U-20’s in 2005. However, he returned to the league in 2005 to coach the Columbus Crew SC. After some back-and-forth with players — like former goalkeeper Jon Busch — and with management, Schmid left the team in 2008.
Schmid’s legacy takes to Seattle
His most notable landing was with the Seattle Sounders FC.
Schmid became the club’s first-ever head coach. In his first season, Schmid led the Sounders to a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup victory over D.C. United. In that first season, Schmid became the winningest coach in MLS history, reaching his 125th victory. He surpassed Bob Bradley for the accolade, with Seattle’s 2-1 victory over FC Dallas.
Seattle was the second-only expansion team to make the MLS Cup playoffs during their inaugural season. The only other team to do so was the Chicago Fire 1998, only two years after the birth of MLS.
Schmid and the Sounders won a second-straight U.S. Open Cup title in 2010, defeating Schmid’s former club, Columbus. A third-consecutive win occurred in 2011, with the Sounders defeating the Chicago Fire. To this day, the Sounders are the only team to win the title for three-straight years.
In 2014, another U.S. Open Cup title hit the shelves at Century Link Field. Schmid was responsible for bringing in players like Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins and Brad Evans.
In the middle of the 2016 season, Schmid mutually agreed with the Sounders to leave hte club. Current head coach Brian Schmetzer replaced him. Instead of coaching, Schmid joined ESPN FC as an analyst.
Schmid goes back home
However, Schmid didn’t stay away from the pitch forever.
In 2017, Schmid returned to the LA Galaxy, joining the team on July 27. He replaced Curt Onalfo, who took over for Bruce Arena, who was with the U.S. Men’s National Team. Schmid couldn’t revive the struggling Galaxy in 2017, but after bringing in players like Zlatan Ibrahimović, Perry Kitchen and David Bingham, Schmid had a rollercoaster season.
Schmid did not re-sign players like Jermaine Jones and Gyasi Zardes, who went to the Columbus Crew SC.
In 2018, the Galaxy failed to make the playoffs, only one point away from sixth place. However, the Galaxy finished the season with a 13-12-9 record, one spot behind Real Salt Lake. Schmid left the team in September 2018 after struggles.
After Schmid’s passing, the Galaxy released a statement.
“The LA Galaxy are deeply saddened by the passing of Sigi Schmid,” the statement said. “Sigi was a pillar of the Southern California and United States soccer community. He was a pioneer and his influence on the sport of soccer in the United States will long be felt. Sigi was a man of character, a good father, husband, friend and a passionate coach who respected everyone. He will always be a part of our family. We mourn his loss and offer our deepest sympathies to his family during this difficult time.”
Statements from the Sounders
Schmid’s longest tenure in MLS came with the Seattle Sounders. After his passing members of the Sounders front office released statements on behalf of the club on the all-time winningest coach in MLS.
“Today’s news comes as a shock and a devastating blow to our entire community across MLS and U.S. Soccer,” owner Adrian Hanauer said. “Sigi was someone I respected immensely, not only for his success as a coach and dedication to his craft, but more importantly as a man and someone that truly left a positive mark on the people he encountered every day. He will be missed greatly by a lot of people, and on behalf of the soccer community here in Seattle, I can say that we would not be where we are now without him.”
Garth Lagerwey, Sounders general manager, called Schmid a “man of great class.”
“We are deeply saddened to hear of Sigi’s passing and our thoughts are with his family… I admired him both as a competitor and then as a colleague,” Lagerwey said. “His accomplishments in our league were vast, and his influence on U.S. soccer will leave a lasting legacy.”
Current Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said that Schmid was a “man of great character and integrity.”
“We are all deeply saddened to lose one of the most well-respected men in our soccer community, and extend our deepest condolences to his family,” Schmetzer said. “He helped launch our franchise with winning traditions, and I learned a lot from Sigi in our seven years of coaching together. He will always hold a special place in my heart, and I know the same can be said for our Sounders family and the greater Seattle soccer community.”
Former players, fellow teams take to social media to remember Sigi
Saddened to hear about Sigi. I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to know and work with him. Truly an amazing guy and coach. May you Rest In Peace Sig! pic.twitter.com/xrHteRAWnF
— Cristian Roldan⚽ (@CristianRoldan) December 27, 2018
Thank you, Sigi.
We love you and we miss you. pic.twitter.com/zRhGiP7PtW
— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) December 27, 2018
Sigi believed in me when most others had given up. His successful career and unwavering passion for the game will remain unrivaled. My deepest condolences to his entire and extended family. You are missed dearly Sig pic.twitter.com/AqDKZ6l2vI
— Stefan Frei (@Stefan24Frei) December 27, 2018
Losses affect you in different ways. This one hurts tremendously. Really can’t believe it. So influential to me and really was the reason I am here today. Thank you. https://t.co/25CT8YHgxA
— brad evans (@brad_evans3) December 27, 2018
— Chris Henderson (@19Hendy19) December 27, 2018
Very sad and devastated for this news. Sigi was a great coach and even better person.He was like a father to me,he believed in me,trusted me and stuck with me for many years. His legacy will always be present, my condolences go to the whole Schmid family.Thankscoach foreverything pic.twitter.com/XZxAsCABd3
— Osvaldo Alonso (@OzzieAlonso) December 27, 2018
Prayers for the Schmid family. RIP Sigi. You were a legend to the game of soccer in the US 🇺🇸 🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/cdtYwrw9LL
— Justin Meram (@JustinMeram) December 27, 2018
Very saddened by this news. My prayers go out to the whole Schmid family. Sigi gave me my start as a professional and was so influential in my career and the careers of so many others. But more importantly he was a great person. RIP Coach, thank you for everything https://t.co/vgIHxoSq8L
— Jordan Morris (@JmoSmooth13) December 27, 2018
So sad 2hear the news about Sigi. A true pioneer of American soccer, fantastic coach, friend and all around great man. There’s so many that carved out amazing careers on/off the pitch because of this man. He believed in me & gave me my shot. Thoughts & prayers 2 the Schmid family
— Nick Rimando (@NickRimando) December 27, 2018
We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former MLS head coach Sigi Schmid.
Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones at this difficult time, and his legacy will continue to live on through the impact he's made on the game in the United States. pic.twitter.com/vGS7UX51Ey
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) December 27, 2018
When I talk about our American soccer culture, it’s with the respect and recognition that it’s been built by people like Sigi Schmid. I, and so many others, benifitted from his work and influence. He helped change and grow the game and made it better at every level. #ThankYouSigi
— Alexi Lalas (@AlexiLalas) December 27, 2018
Played for, played against and worked with Sigi Schmid since 1998. He loved his craft and loved the sport of soccer and was very successful while doing so. My heart goes out to his family in this difficult time. RIP Sigi #MLS
— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) December 27, 2018
#CrewSC is deeply saddened by the passing of former Columbus Crew SC Head Coach Sigi Schmid. We are forever grateful to have Sigi be a part of the Crew SC Family and will fondly hold on to the memories he gave us during his time in Columbus. pic.twitter.com/h5xyGtSXEv
— The Crew (@ColumbusCrew) December 27, 2018
Thanks from all of U.S. Soccer to Sigi Schmid for a life spent positively impacting players, coaches and many others in our American soccer family. #RIPSigihttps://t.co/3ywZuFQ9hG pic.twitter.com/paWB2EKa1h
— U.S. Men's National Soccer Team (@USMNT) December 27, 2018
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) December 27, 2018
— Gyasi Zardes (@gyasinho) December 27, 2018
We are saddened by the passing of Sigi Schmid and send our deepest condolences to his family, friends & @SoundersFC.
— Seattle Storm (@seattlestorm) December 27, 2018
We send our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Sigi Schmid, as well as the @SoundersFC community.
His impact on Seattle sports will not be forgotten. 💚💙 pic.twitter.com/IxTUuViotK
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) December 27, 2018
Legendary UCLA Coach Sigi Schmid has passed away at the age of 65.
— UCLA Athletics (@UCLAAthletics) December 27, 2018
Coach Sigi Schmid: An amazing family man, a fantastic coach, a pioneer of soccer in the United States. We all will miss you very, very much SIGI ! All our prayers and thoughts are with the Schmid family and closed ones:https://t.co/xdfQPki6vy
— J_Klinsmann (@J_Klinsmann) December 27, 2018
The Portland Timbers organization is mourning the loss of Sigi Schmid. He was a worthy adversary who played an incredibly significant role in building soccer in our country. Our thoughts are with his loved ones. He will be sorely missed.
— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) December 27, 2018
We are deeply saddened by the passing of former MLS head coach Sigi Schmid. Our thoughts and prayers are with Schmid’s family during this difficult time. Schmid was a two-time MLS Cup Champion and had a profound impact on the game of soccer in the 🇺🇸. pic.twitter.com/57We2xMM9T
— D.C. United (@dcunited) December 27, 2018
Very saddened to hear the news of the passing of my friend and respected rival Sigi Schmid. He gave so much to the game but he’d be first to say the game gave him more. A true soccer legend. My thoughts go out to his loving family. RIP Sigi.
— Dave Sarachan (@DaveSarachan) December 27, 2018
RIP Sigi Schmid. You saw something in me and gave me a chance, I'm thankful to have known you. More importantly you gave so much to soccer in America. You will be missed.
— Sacha Kljestan (@SachaKljestan) December 27, 2018