Team prepares to add the late Sigi Schmid, Crew coach from 2006-08, to its Circle of Honor
The Columbus Crew will add a third name to the Circle of Honor at the June 29 home game against Orlando City SC: Sigi Schmid.
The Circle of Honor is the Crew's hall of fame, a series of names displayed prominently across the upper deck on the west side of Mapfre Stadium. Per the team website, “Whether on the field, on the sidelines or behind-the-scenes, Columbus Crew Circle of Honor inductees have played an integral role in the Black & Gold's eventful history.”
The Crew created the Circle of Honor in 2011 to recognize Brian McBride. In 2014 they inducted Frankie Hejduk. Several other names belong there — Guillermo Barros Schelotto especially — but you won't hear any dissent when Schmid's name is added next week.
Schmid is the first coach to join the Circle of Honor. Sadly, he's also the first posthumous induction. Schmid, who coached the Crew from 2006-08 and ended his tenure with the team's first and only MLS Cup title, died last Christmas at age 65, three weeks after being hospitalized in need of a heart transplant. He had resigned as coach of the LA Galaxy just three months earlier.
Schmid's death resonated across American soccer. He was the winningest coach in MLS history (240 regular season victories plus 26 in the playoffs), led both the Galaxy and Crew to championships, and headed up some fantastic Seattle Sounders squads. Before all that, he had a legendary run as coach of UCLA's men's soccer team in the '80s and '90s.
Columbus was a small part of his story. His time here was brief compared to Seattle and especially Los Angeles, his adopted hometown after emigrating from Germany as a child. But he made his Ohio years count.
Slowly but surely, Schmid built the Crew from basement-dwellers to the best and most exciting team in MLS. His '06 and '07 teams didn't even make the playoffs, yet there was a gradual shift underway, such that by '08 the team had become self-evidently special.
To quote the old cliche, the bounces started going the Crew's way, but it was more than that. They ceased making the little mistakes that plague lesser teams (like, say, the 2019 Columbus Crew, but that's another column). Self-defeating psychology gave way to confident enthusiasm. Every player found chances to step up and be the hero. It was beautiful. It was what every sports fan hopes for.
Schmid's positive influence became even clearer when the Crew declined for several years after his departure. He left to become Seattle's first coach, partially to be closer to his family on the West Coast, though he was also frustrated with contract negotiations in Columbus. Supporter objections about him leaving so soon have long since evaporated; nowadays fans are more grateful than ever for Schmid's contributions to the team's finest moment.
Saturday, June 29, is a chance to pay homage in front of his family. If Schmid means something to you, it's a night not to miss.