With legendary head coach Sigi Schmid now available after being fired by the LA Galaxy, the Chicago Fire should pounce on the chance and bring him in.
MLS doesn’t see many coaches fired throughout the season, but this year has just seen one of the more notable firings in recent memory.
On September 10th, the Los Angeles Galaxy announced that legendary coach Sigi Schmid would be stepping down as head coach with a few games left in the season. With the LA side out of a playoff spot and under immense pressure, the decision was a mutual one made by both team and manager.
Schmid has come out and said he still wants to manage. That quote should interest many teams in MLS. One team that should be especially keen is the Chicago Fire, who have to try and hire Schmid as their next head coach.
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This most recent run with the Galaxy should not blur the fact that Schmid is arguably the MLS’ greatest coach of all time. He is the winningest manager in the league’s history, with 228 wins to his name, which is 26 more than second place. The German’s trophy cabinet is nearly full as well, with his list of achievements a lengthy one. He won MLS Cup in 2002 and 2008, the U.S. Open Cup five times, the Supporters’ Shield on three occasions, and even the CONCACAF Champions Cup. His most recent tenure might not have been the best, but Schmid has the accolades to prove he can be immensely successful in this league.
For the Chicago Fire, it seems increasingly likely they will have a coaching vacancy that needs filing soon. The contract of current manager Veljko Paunovic runs out at the end of the season, with many under the impression he won’t resign. No one can really blame him. The club’s front office has failed to bring in the right set of players to help him and the team thrive. Instead of building on a successful 2017 campaign, the club decided to rest on its laurels, leading to the team regressing on the field.
That doesn’t mean Paunovic has been faultless. He did help guide the team to a third-place finish last year, but that now seems like an anomaly. His debut season ended with the club finishing in last place and there’s a big chance the same will happen in his final year. Paunovic is a competent tactician but a woeful man manager. Too many promising Fire players have been misused, leading to them either sitting on the bench or being sent away altogether. He won’t end up going down as the worst manager in club history, but it might be the right time for Paunovic and the Fire to go their separate ways.
If, and when, Paunovic decides to depart, the Fire wouldn’t have many decent candidates to look at. The biggest free agent name on the market is Caleb Porter, but it seems he is waiting for FC Cincinnati to become an official expansion side. Names like Bruce Arena and David Moyes have been floating around, but both would be too costly and wouldn’t bring the success on the field to make their acquisitions worth it. Chicago could always try and find a hidden coaching gem in Europe, but that could very easily end in disaster.
Schmid would bring in an immediate respectability and relevancy to the club. Even though the Fire play in the third biggest market in the country, they are not nearly as prominent as they should be. Chicago are rarely featured on national broadcasts and, if ever, simply serve as the opponents for a more important team. Bringing in Schmid would change that.
The current Fire roster is far from terrible, and a coach of the quality of Schmid should be able to get a lot more out of it. Rumors have indicated that World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger is willing to stay another season. His quality is undoubted at this point. Nemanja Nikolic has continued to score goals, while Aleksandar Katai has been one of the surprise packages of the season. Add defensive stalwarts Dax McCarty and Johan Kappelhof to the mix, with some key offseason acquisitions, and you have a roster ready to compete for a playoff spot.
The signing of Sigi Schmid could help the Chicago Fire finally return MLS prominence. This is an absolute must.