Sounders' Schmid to return for next season

SEATTLE (AP) - Despite a late-season swoon that cost them playoff positioning and a shot at the Supporters' Shield, the only coach in the Seattle Sounders' MLS history will be back next season.

Sigi Schmid will return as the Sounders coach in 2014, the team announced Thursday morning. Schmid's status was revealed in a statement from majority owner Joe Roth after conversations with part-owner and Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer.

Earlier this week, Hanauer indicated discussions about Schmid's status would take place soon. Those conversations happened during a two-hour meeting between Hanauer, Schmid and Roth in Los Angeles on Tuesday. A decision was reached quickly.

"I wanted to hear from Sigi and have him hear what my expectations of the team are," Roth said during a conference call Thursday afternoon.

Schmid's status had been in doubt after the Sounders flopped at the end of the season, going winless in nine of their final 10 games, and were ousted in the MLS Western Conference semifinals by Portland. It capped a roller coaster season for the Sounders during which some high-profile moves failed to yield anything beyond another early playoff exit.

Roth said he was "horrified" by the late-season slide, especially after the Sounders had played so well for most of the summer.

"We just haven't had a slide like that, and it was so shocking and discouraging that I thought we all needed to talk about it," Roth said. "Nobody's won more MLS games than Sigi, he's a great coach, we just wanted to get some understanding about it and make sure that we can do the steps - whatever they are - whether they're in training, in the locker room, or whatever to make sure this thing doesn't happen again."

Despite a roster that featured U.S. national team players Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson and Brad Evans, the Sounders were eliminated in the conference semifinals for the fourth time in five seasons. Seattle reached the conference finals in 2012. But despite winning two U.S. Open Cup titles, Schmid has been unable to find the same success in the MLS postseason.

Much of the blame for this season's late flop has been directed at Schmid, but Hanauer said earlier this week there is plenty of blame to go around.

Schmid, 60, has been the only coach in Seattle's MLS history. Before coming to Seattle, Schmid coached in Columbus and Los Angeles, winning MLS Cup titles with both franchises. Considering the raucous fan support and resources thrown behind the Sounders, Seattle's inability to land an MLS Cup title so far under Schmid has been one of the biggest knocks against him.

Hanauer did not comment on a report that Johnson is being shopped as a trade option for other teams, other than saying this is the time of year when general managers are regularly in contact.