Best Coach

Sigi Schmid

It's hard to imagine where Sounders FC would be without Sigi Schmid, and it goes way beyond the hardware (a record-tying three consecutive U.S. Open Cup titles—no other MLS club has done it twice—and last year's first all-MLS Cascadia Cup) and the numbers: Seattle's point total and victories have increased every season, and the Sounders have led MLS in attendance every year. In the four years since he was hired, Schmid—with general manager Adrian Hanauer and technical director Chris Henderson—has created from scratch a team that made the playoffs its first three seasons (becoming the first MLS expansion franchise in 11 years to qualify for the postseason) and is headed in that direction this year as well. He's attempting to build on that success while introducing younger players into the squad, trying to ensure that the Sounders' future is as bright—if not brighter—than their immediate past. So far, this has been the most challenging of Schmid's four seasons here, and what may be his best coaching job. He juggled 24 players through 22 matches in the season's first half, counting Champions League and U.S. Open Cup play; 15 of them missed at least two matches due to injuries and/or disciplinary suspensions, including 10 of the 11 who started the season opener. He's masterfully manipulated the roster he helped assemble, never being able to start the same lineup twice and weathering a club-record nine-match winless streak that stretched from mid-May into July. Sigi's third MLS Cup with a third team would set a new standard. If it's going to happen, it'll happen here. MICHAEL MAHONEY

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