The news out of Portland today that Timbers coach John Spencer was being fired means that the first three expansion teams that followed Seattle into the league — Philadelphia, Vancouver and Portland — all have made at least one coaching change, while the Sounders continue to win with their original coach: Sigi Schmid.
We asked Schmid a bit about this area of franchise stability:
“I think it’s great,” he said. “I think you need stability. 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 in three weeks becomes a bad coach. So you have to look at that. Now, there’s a lot of factors that goes 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 play and maintaining that in our DNA is really important, and I think that’s something we’ve done well.”
Q: Are the Sounders actually more patient and stable, or have you simply given then no reason to fire you?
A: Hopefully a little bit of both. I think we’re more stable for sure. This time (nine-game winless streak) around was probably close. At the end, I think we have good trust in each other, and we have good belief in each other. I’m not saying this because he’s standing there: I believe in Adrian, and I know he believes in me. Having that understanding and having that trust makes it a lot easier to operate. You can disagree, but you still know that there’s trust in each other, and that makes any relationship – from boss to employer to employee – makes any working relationship that much better.
Q: Have you felt on the hot seat here?
A: I make the seat more hot. My wife gets always upset with me because if we don’t win in two-three games, I’m always saying, ‘Look, I could get fired the next game.’ (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 I think that works because it keeps me motivated and it 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 have to become tougher again, we have to become difficult, we’ve got to have our mentality. I kept saying we’ve got to get our mentality right and the soccer with 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 coach anywhere that’s solid, consistently .500, and just being happy and content with that. It would just drive me nuts.
I spoke a bit on this same topic with general manager Adrian Hanauer, and I’ll add a new post with his comments soon.