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Former Crew SC coach Sigi Schmid dies at 65

The 2008 MLS Cup champion passed away in Los Angeles on Christmas Day.

MLS: Columbus Crew at Los Angeles Galaxy Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Former Columbus Crew SC head coach Sigi Schmid died on Tuesday, Christmas Day, at the age of 65 at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, in Los Angeles. The hospital did not disclose the cause of Sigi’s death, but he reportedly had serious heart conditions.

His family issued a statement on Wednesday”

“Our family is deeply saddened by his passing and is taking this time to grieve the loss of a tremendous husband, father, leader and mentor. We also recognize how much Sigi meant to so many people across the U.S. Soccer landscape and around the world at different levels of the game. That community meant a great deal to him as well. While we mourn his loss, we appreciate privacy during this challenging time.”

The veteran coach was in charge of the Crew from 2006 to 2008 and was arguably the most successful coach in club history, leading the Black & Gold to both the MLS Cup and the Supporters’ Shield trophies during his last season in Columbus. He began his career in Columbus in devestating fashion, finishing last in the Eastern Conference but laying the groundwork for his future success.

In the 2006 season, Schmid brought in Eddie Gaven, Danny O’Rourke, Alejandro Moreno, Wil Hesmer, Robbie Rogers, Adam Moffat and Guillermo Barros Schelotto. A strong core for what would become the best team in Crew history. The additions of Brian Carroll, Brad Evans and Gino Padula finished the rebuilding in time for the 2008 season.

He was at MAPFRE Stadium on Sept. 29, when the club celebrated the 10th anniversary of its MLS Cup title. There, Schmid gave a speech to the players after the game against the Philadelphia Union.

Schmid was born in Germany but moved to the United States at the age of four with his family and developed into a coaching legend in Major League Soccer. He was a teacher of the game, beginning his career coaching high school, but soon moved to the college game, first as an assistant, then in 1980 as the head coach of UCLA’s men’s soccer program. The program became a juggernaut, winning three College Cups during his 19-year tenure at the school. Countless players came through the program and moved on to professional careers or prepared for life under his tutelage.

He also coached the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Seattle Sounders and is currently the all-time winningest coach in MLS history, with 266 regular-season and postseason victories in 18 seasons.

He was a two-time MLS Cup champion, having also claimed the tittle with the LA Galaxy in 2002, a two-time MLS Coach of the Year winner in 1999 and 2008 and also collected five U.S. Open titles. Schmid, who was an assistant coach with the U.S. Men’s National Team at the 1994 World Cup is part of the U.S. Soccer National Soccer Hall of Fame after his induction in 2015.

Schmid’s last work was coaching the LA Galaxy once again during the 2018 season before he was fired in September. At the time, he said he wasn’t done coaching and that he planned on writing a book. He left behind his wife Valerie and four children: Erik, Lacey, Kurt, and Kyle