Sigi Schmid (left) had a donw-to-earth quality, as does Real Salt Lake coach Mike Petke.  (Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports)

By Michael Lewis Editor

In sports, we tend to grade coaches by wins and losses, championships and other accomplishments.

And rightfully so. The ultimate measuring stick in those competitions is the finish line.

Sigi Schmid had all of that and even more with multiple coach of the year honors and even being a membership in the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

Schmid, who passed away on Christmas Day in Los Angeles at the age of 65, arguably the best coach never to have directed a U.S. national team, although his name had been mentioned several times as a possible main man.

Regardless, Schmid left a legacy second to none and cast a shadow in another way — as a man, as a mensch.

Here is someone with so much influence, so many accomplishments, he rarely let his ego get in the way of how he did things. He was a humble man with a kind heart who brought a humanity to a profession that demands steel will and sometimes a ruthless outlook to survive.

You could see from all of the tributes on social media what kind of influence Schmid had on soccer, whether it was a team’s front office, his players or even media.

During my tenure I’ve had the opportunity and privilege to talk to Schmid several times one-on-one. Given the fact that 3,000 miles separated us, most of the interviews were done via the phone. He took the time and gave me the respect of a writer who had been covering one of his teams, whether it was UCLA, the LA Galaxy or Seattle Sounders FC.

As an “outsider” I appreciated that.

Schmid fell into a category of pro coaches that I have known and covered in the metropolitan area in recent years, someone that I could talk to and not necessarily be a constant interview. Those that filled that category included and were not limited to Bob Bradley, Juan Carlos Osorio, Mike Petke and Giovanni Savarese.

In other words, he was down to earth.

So, it should not be that surprising that Schmid was one of my favorite coaches — on the sidelines of a soccer pitch and in the mainstream in life.

RIP, Sigi.

Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at