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Originally published Tuesday, December 16, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Sigi Schmid becomes Sounders FC's first coach

Seattle Sounders FC has its man in Sigi Schmid, who will be introduced Tuesday as the Major League Soccer team's first head coach.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Seattle Sounders FC has its first coach, and is ready to introduce him to Seattle at 11 a.m. today at Qwest Field.

The club and Sigi Schmid have reached an agreement on a contract that makes Schmid, 55, the first coach for the new Major League Soccer franchise. Seattle, with 14 players on its roster, will open training camp at the end of January. The MLS regular season starts in March.

Landing Schmid was perhaps a bit more difficult than Sounders FC had figured. Schmid, one of the most recognized U.S. soccer coaches, has led two MLS teams to league championships — the Los Angeles Galaxy and, this year, the Columbus Crew. Schmid parted ways with the Crew earlier this month after three seasons in Columbus.

Schmid met with Sounders FC executives earlier this month during a visit to the Seattle area. It seemed then that his hiring was imminent. But the Crew accused Sounders FC of tampering in its pursuit of Schmid and also cited a contract clause that, in essence, said Schmid couldn't coach elsewhere in MLS in 2009.

That led to Columbus issuing a statement regarding Schmid, which said, "Sigi Schmid has formally declined our last contract offer and will not be returning as head coach of the Columbus Crew ... We respect his desire to seek the next challenge and wish him nothing but the best."

Schmid's path to become Seattle's coach was cleared last week after the league found no evidence of tampering by Seattle, and after Sounders FC paid the Crew to release Schmid from the noncompete clause in his previous contract. Schmid's contract with the Crew had expired after the season.

Schmid comes to Seattle as the reigning MLS coach of the year. Born in Germany and raised in Southern California, Schmid has coached at UCLA, where he worked with current Sounders FC technical director Chris Henderson.

José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or jromero@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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