Seattle Sounders FC has solid foundation

By Brian Westfall, Soccer Editor

MLS Features Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Sigi Schmid looked a little uncomfortable on Tuesday, sporting a suit and tie for a press conference introducing him as the first coach of MLS expansion club Seattle Sounders FC.

"I'm not one who wears ties very often," Schmid said, "and if you see me in a tie very often, that means I'm not doing my job on the field.

"So hopefully you won't see me in one often."

If the past is any indication, Schmid's tie will start collecting dust soon.

Schmid left MLS Cup winner Columbus Crew - and his lucky black and yellow scarf - behind to take on a new challenge in Seattle.

Sigi Schmid may now feature a rave green and sounders blue lucky scarf around his neck.
The former UCLA (three NCAA crowns), Los Angeles Galaxy (one MLS Cup title) and Columbus (one MLS Cup championship) coach has made winning the norm, and adds to a solid foundation the new club had already built.

Former U.S. national team star Kasey Keller and Swedish international and mini-David Beckham Freddie Ljungberg - a famous underwear model as well as a soccer star - were signed within the last five months.

The addition of the 55-year-old, German-born Schmid, who moved to the U.S. 46 years ago, has established the perfect foundation for Seattle to build upon.

"We believe Sigi is a perfect fit," Seattle majority owner Joe Roth said.

Schmid built UCLA into an NCAA power, and helped a talented but underachieving Los Angeles club win its first MLS Cup. His latest achievement at Columbus was the most impressive because "it was a complete rebuilding job," he said.

Seattle has handed Schmid, who also previously coached the U.S. Under-20 team and was an assistant on the Americans' 1994 World Cup team, two huge pieces he didn't have in Columbus in Keller and Ljungberg.

"I think that base is already a little bit stronger than it was in Columbus in my first year," said Schmid, who was 8-15-8 with Columbus in 2006 but won 17 to lead the Crew to the Cup last season.

Keller, a Washington native, played 102 matches for the U.S. His club career is highlighted by a stint with Tottenham in England, and he last played in Germany for Monchengladbach.

Although 39, Schmid knows Keller is "a great cornerstone around which to build your team."

Ljungberg appeared in 75 matches for Sweden and played at English power Arsenal from 1998-2007. His last club stop was at England's West Ham and at just 31, he could emerge as the top player in MLS.

"Freddie is a player that has played in one of the premier clubs in the world in Arsenal, and he brings that experience," Schmid said.

Together, Keller and Ljungberg can help Schmid turn Seattle into a competitive side - even a contender - a lot quicker.

"When you have players like that ...the more they can rub that off onto the young players, the quicker and faster we become a good team," Schmid said.

Still, Seattle's front office - which includes minority owner Drew Carey - sees Schmid as the most important addition yet.

"While all of those are powerful announcements, I think (Tuesday was) truly a defining moment in this franchise," said Tod Leiweke, the Seattle Seahawks CEO and manager for Paul Allen's minority ownership interest in Sounders FC.

Schmid is the only coach to lead two different teams to MLS Cup titles, and the Sounders hired him with championships in mind.

"We plan on being the third," Roth said.

In 91 days, when Seattle plays its first game in MLS, expect two-time MLS Coach of the Year Schmid to be a little more comfortable - perhaps with a rave green and sounders blue lucky scarf around his neck.

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