Sigi Schmid, the MLS expansion Sounders’ first coach, died Wednesday, three weeks after being hospitalized at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in need of a heart transplant. He was 65. Cause of death was not disclosed.
“Our family is deeply saddened by his passing and is taking this time to grieve the loss of a tremendous husband, father, leader and mentor,” Schmid’s family said in a statement. “We also recognize how much Sigi meant to so many people across the U.S. Soccer landscape and around the world at different levels of the game. That community meant a great deal to him as well, and for that reason, it was important to us that we share the news of his passing.
“While we mourn his loss, we appreciate privacy during this challenging time and will not be issuing further statements.”
Schmid was the winningest coach in MLS history with 266 regular and postseason victories over 18 seasons. After winning the MLS Cup with Columbus in 2008, he was hired by Seahawks/Sounders CEO Tod Leiweke in 2009 to help launch the Sounders’ franchise, which became the most successful expansion team in the U.S. league’s history.
Schmid led the Sounders to seven playoff appearances, four U.S. Open Cup titles and the 2014 Supporters’ Shield. Halfway through the 2016 season after a 6-12-2 start that included a July 24 loss to Sporting Kansas City when the Sounders managed only one shot, Schmid and the club agreed to part ways.
He was replaced by Brian Schmetzer, who led the club to consecutive appearances in the MLS Cup.
Schmid became a studio analyst for ESPN, then was hired in July 2017 by the Los Angeles Galaxy, with whom he began his MLS career, as head coach, replacing Curt Onalfo. He resigned in September, replaced by assistant coach Dominic Kinnear. He led the Galaxy to its first MLS Cup title in 2002.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Schmid long has had problems with his heart. There was quiet concern in the Galaxy locker room last season about the coach’s health. He was hospitalized with pneumonia during his first season in Seattle in 2009 and again for undisclosed reasons in 2015, missing a match.