If Brian Schmetzer was anyone else and coached anywhere else, he would be hands down considered one of the greatest coaches in the history of American Soccer. He’s got the highest winning percentage of any Major League Soccer coach with over 70 matches coached. He’s led his squad to four of the last five league championship matches. He’s won two titles as the coach of the United Soccer League version of the Seattle Sounders and he was a player for the original version of the Sounders in the North American Soccer League. Still, Fox Sports commentator Alexei Lalas asked the question “Is he a good coach in Seattle, or is he a good coach?” on a recent pre-match broadcast.
In a sport where the top American talent is expected and encouraged to go to Europe to grow and develop, it should be no surprise that loyalty to a franchise is punished. Yes, the highest wages are paid for soccer in Europe. No, that should not discredit outstanding achievements that take place in the American leagues. Should it cast doubt on the greatness that Schmetzer has achieved? Absolutely not.
Seattle has arguably the most successful American soccer franchise in history. It riles the rest of the league and the country to see them achieve success year after year. They have been in the playoffs every year since they joined MLS. They won the US Open Cup Tournament the first three years they were in MLS and Schmetzer was a part of all of it.
Through it all he has exemplifies two traits that are devalued in American sports and society, loyalty and humility. He passes praise along to his players and front office at every opportunity. He doesn’t seek the spotlight. He earns rather than demands the respect of his players. It has all led to success, but not respect.
Schmetzer doesn’t spend much time worrying about the lack of respect he receives. After the comments by Lalas he indicated that his mom was upset, but passed the rest of the comments off as something that he cannot control. His focused stayed on what he and his team can control and it he was rewarded with one of the most dramatic come from the behind wins in the history of Major League Soccer.
For those who value respect, loyalty and humility, Schmetzer has risen to the peak of how to conduct yourself in professional sports. It is more than likely that he will pass on even that praise, but he earned it.