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Crew officially says goodbye to Sigi Schmid, next stop Seattle

Sigi Schmid 1 ( 

The Sigi Schmid era in Columbus is now officially over.

The man who helped the Columbus Crew win its first MLS Cup title has passed on a new contract with the Crew, paving the way for Schmid's inevitable move to MLS expansion club Seattle Sounders FC.

Crew president Mark McCullers released the following statement late on Tuesday night:

“Sigi Schmid has formally declined our last contract offer and will not be returning as head coach of the Columbus Crew. Sigi was the ideal person to turn around our competitive program and create a championship mentality within our club. As a result, we are well positioned moving forward and toward continued success. We respect his desire to seek the next challenge and wish him nothing but the best.”

What's next for the Crew? It would be difficult to imagine Columbus hiring anybody but long-time assistant coach Robert Warzycha, a Crew fan favorite regarded as one of the top assistant coaches in MLS.

So when will Seattle introduce Schmid as head coach? As soon as Schmid agrees to a contract, which is a formality at this point.

What do you think of Schmid leaving Columbus? Can the Crew repeat without him? Is Warzycha the right man to replace Schmid? Can Seattle succeed in year one under a two-time MLS Cup-winning head coach?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I’m certain that the Crew will get an undisclosed amount of allocation cash and maybe a second round draft pick, and as such will choose to not exercise their no-compete clause and will drop their tampering charges against Seattle for obviously talking to Sigi without permission prior to the end of his contract. Mark McCullers said in the Dispatch that it is not their intention to keep Sigi from working. They just want to be properly compensated for Seattle stepping into what should have been a time period for the Crew to have exclusive negotiation rights with Sigi while he was still under contract with the Crew. They should not have been able to make him an offer during that time period, and obviously they did, or else we would have never heard the $500k per year for 4 years number floating around.

  2. A No-Compete clause is designed to extend beyond the contract itself, and here’s how it works.

    As a condition of the contract itself, the signer agrees not to compete in a market within the agreed length of time post-contract. If we use the example of a radio station, this prevents a DJ from taking a high-profile time slot, working for the contract period, then jumping to another station and taking the listeners with them. In this case, it’s possible (I’m speculating) that Sigi would be clear to coach the National Team or somewhere overseas, but not in MLS, for that specified time. Coaching another MLS team would certainly be considered competing.

    It would actually make sense for the Crew to protect themselves from giving Sigi a job that he could leave as soon as the first West Coast job popped up.

  3. Sounders are in the west, Sigi was uninvolved in the Expansion Draft, his contract has expired, and Columbus has bid him farewell…don’t see how he’s “competing” with the Crew.

    Seattle seems to be taking a thoughtful, steady approach to putting together the club – not just the team of players. Sigi’s signing would be one more piece of evidence to that. Don’t have any idea in what position the Sounders will finish their maiden season, but it will be well-planned, that’s for sure, and well-supported with more than 18,000 season tickets sold. That’s a good omen, indeed.

  4. RE: Non-compete clauses.

    Non compete clauses routinely go beyond the length of the employment contract, in fact, that is the whole point. That is not the issue.

    The issue is always the ability of the employee to find comparable employment outside the non-compete zone (size of the zone, length of the zone).

    In this case, it seems the non-compete zone would be MLS (the whole country) and I would think Sigi would have a good cause to have the clause thrown out, having to move to a different country to find comparable work is not reasonable.

  5. 1. AndyinSeattle, winning a championship doesn’t make you a great coach (exhibit A: Steve Sampson). Failure to win one doesn’t make you a bad coach. Columbus would be silly to extend Sigi the Hutt just because he won a championship–you extend someone if you think they’re a good coach. He didn’t suddenly become really smart. He’s pretty much the same coach now that he was a year ago.

    2. Single biggest issue for Columbus now (and this time last year and this time two years ago) is the lack of a great scorer. Moreno is a good player but not much of a “go to” finisher. And if you watched Columbus in 2007, that was their single biggest issue: failure to finish.

    3. Mitchell’s column basically says that an unknown source with knowledge of the contract implies there could be a noncompete contract. And Columbus is filing tampering charges against Seattle. Now if there’s a non-compete clause, why would Columbus have to file charges against Seattle.

    In any case, this is just “step one” (Sigi turning down Columbus’ offer) which leads to “step two” with Sigi signing wth Seattle. If “step two” happens than that’s pretty definitive that there is no non-compete clause.

  6. Non compete clause in an expired contract? I’ve never heard so much crap in my life. Somebody somewhere is having a laugh.

  7. I’m sure whoever started the “non compete” clause talk is some non-credible fanblog that read the contract and doesn’t understand things.

    First, if this clause did exist in his contract, he probably wouldn’t have been interviewing with Seattle.

    Second, if this clause did exist in his contract, somebody more credible then Fid would be reporting it.

  8. The move is probably smart for Sigi. He doesn’t have to repeat as MLS Champion and try to defend the title. If the Sounders suck, then he can say, “they’re an expansion club, we’re building for the future, yadda yadda yadda.” More pay, closer to home and less pressure to win doesn’t sound too bad in my book.

  9. John: “Let’s face it, the Crew screwed up. They could have extended Sigi a year ago and didn’t. So now they pay the price.”

    Really? Would you have signed him after going 0/2 in taking the team to the playoffs?

  10. Sad for Columbus to lose him but not sure that he makes much of a difference this coming year with Seattle. I think it will take at leaste two years to get a team that can win and get in to the playoffs.

  11. If he did sign a no compete then maybe he isn’t all that smart. It sounds like there may be more of an issue regarding tampering charges from Columbus against the Sounders. If nothing else it will make the first meeting between the squads a little more interesting.

  12. Sigi did a good job of rebuilding the Crew. This is the first year though that his substitution decisions made sense to me. The previous two years, Sigi drove me a tad crazy. As a Crew fan I am hopeful that they will give Warzycha the job to see what he can do. As a Sounders fan as well, I think hiring Sigi would ensure that they are building a good foundation. He does have a good track record in MLS. I do understand that being so far away from his family would be a situation Sigi would want to get out of.

  13. 1. I laugh at the idea of a non-compete clause–what a joke! First, for any coach to sign that, you’d have to pony up more cash. Is that what Columbus has been noted for–paying extra to ice a particular detail? I don’t think so. Second, what coach would sign such a thing? Third, the idea that non-competes extend beyond employment are typically industry situations (like US trade negotiators that can’t work for industry for a year after their employment in the US govt.). Those aren’t contract requirements but law based upon a particular profession. Schmid is OUT OF CONTRACT. The standard “non-compete” in pro sports is: when you’re fired, the club pays you the rest of your contract UNLESS you take another club job (and even than, if your money is guaranteed, you still might be able to double-dip).

    Let’s face it, the Crew screwed up. They could have extended Sigi a year ago and didn’t. So now they pay the price.

    2. I’m not so quick to assume that Seattle will be great. Sigi Schmid is a good coach. But I put him down as much like Bruce Arena–with the right mix of talent that plays HIS system (which in this case is a back 4 with two outside defenders who get forward–that’s just one example), he can be successful. But it took the Sigi the Hutt 3 years to put his team together in Columbus. And he never did get that great goal scorer he was seeking–the Crew’s success last season is even more remarkable given that lack of a great finisher.

  14. AMEN!!!

    Speaking on behalf of all Fire fans. I wish he had gone back west sooner. Truly one of the best coaches in this young league’s history and one of whom I have tons of admiration and respect. Seattle continues to do well in setting up their club and I look forward to them kicking some ass out west and as far away from us as possible.

  15. Actually, non-compete clauses can extend beyond the length of a contract, so it’s quite possible that Sigi would be unable to join Seattle in 2009. That being said, I think it’s unlikely that any coach would sign a contract with such a clause, so my guess is it’s idle speculation.

    Go Sigi! I can’t imagine a better coach to jump start a franchise.

  16. I am assuming that “no competes” usually only happen when you are under contract. As far as I have read on this site Sigi isn’t under contract and free to go where ever he would like.

  17. it’s being reported he had a non-compete clause in his Crew contract that could prevent him from coaching Seattle in 2009.

    Really? Have you ever seen how a long-time cigarette smoker casually blows the smoke back out? That’s what Paul Allen does when something is in his way….. he lets out a sigh and his intimidating team of go-fers make it go away. Now. Money has a way of doing that.

    That’s neither here nor there, since I don’t believe for a second that the classy Crew have such a clause, nor that they would ever enforce it.

  18. michael F – The Crew attempted to pay up, offered nearly an identical offer to Seattle and meeting the “requests” from Sigi with their final offer, which Sigi refused.

    That said, I wouldn’t jump on the “Sigi to Coach Seattle” bandwagon quite yet – it’s being reported he had a non-compete clause in his Crew contract that could prevent him from coaching Seattle in 2009.

  19. As a Crew fan its hard to lose Sigi. He did such a great job rebuilding the team and it would have been nice to see what he could do next year. The real question here was could the Crew keep him without breaking the bank. It appears that his desire to be out west and nearer his family, and possibly in a cooler place in the opinion of some, may have outweighed any reasonable Crew offer. Now, it is also possible that the Crew were unwilling to pay up, but when $$ is the issue, there is always a balance point. So, from the outside it is hard to know if this could have been avoided. All we can do is make the best of what we have left. I hope Robert Warzycha does well. Go CREW!!

  20. I’m bummed that The Crew are being dismantled (Schmid, Marshall, couldn’t help about Evans) before they had a chance to defend their title as intact as possible.

    That said, I’m totally OK with Warzycha running the show. His 14-game ‘audition’ at the end of the 2004 season resulted in a higher winning percentage than either of Sigi’s first two years, and I think Warzycha is the right guy to keep the team moving in the same direction.
    Besides, who out there is better, *and* available? No one, really…

  21. sigi schmid is an awesome coach that only a boneheaded FO like the one LA Galaxy possessed could ever think of firing. I still cant believe they fired Schmid cuz he wasnt playing “sexy football”….last time i checked there is nothing sexy about last place and not making playoffs for three straight seasons.


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