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Nov 24, 2008

Schmid savors his MLS Cup triumph

CARSON, Calif. -- Any MLS Cup title comes with its own unique package of memories, of course.

But for Columbus Crew coach Sigi Schmid, Sunday's title at the Home Depot Center was jam-packed with emotion -- for all manner of reasons.

His wife, Valerie, had a health scare before Sunday's match. So that added unexpected drama to the day.

And there's the question of Schmid's future, which remains in the balance. Even as the champagne poured in Columbus' plastic-covered locker room, the Crew manager admitted he doesn't know where he'll be coaching in 2009.

And then there's the matter of sticking it to the Los Angeles Galaxy, the club that fired him in 2004. Schmid acknowledged that winning at the Home Depot Center, the epicenter of Planet Galaxy, made his claiming the Philip F. Anschutz trophy that much sweeter.

"It's a very emotional moment for me, winning the game here in L.A., in front of family and friends, and -- to be quite honest with you -- in the town I was fired in," Schmid said. "It meant an awful lot. I'm very happy for our team, for our city [Columbus], and for the individual players."

The day nearly took a frightening turn. Schmid's wife awakened at 4:30 a.m. Sunday not feeling well. Schmid was not specific, but did say she required intravenous fluids and appears to be better now.

"My son-in-law is a doctor," Schmid said. "They hooked her up to an IV. They unhooked the IV in the parking lot here so she could come watch the game. So it was pretty emotional."

In a different way, Schmid's professional situation might soon become just as wrenching. His contract expires at the end of November -- and speculation continues that he might end up in charge at expansion Seattle. Officials at Hunt Sports Group, Columbus' owner, say they want to keep Schmid, who also won an MLS title at Los Angeles. But the price has surely gone up after Sunday's 3-1 win in Carson, and the money involved was a point of contention already.

"I didn't want to talk about it during the playoffs," Schmid said of his contract. "The last offer came in two days before the last regular-season game, and I thought that was too late. So I just wanted to focus on this, get through the playoffs. And then I'll make a decision, you know, that makes sense for me, my family, and basically for my future."

The fact that Seattle has yet to hire a coach -- even though the important expansion draft is Wednesday -- is fueling speculation about Schmid. He has lived most of his life in Southern California, and has made it no secret that he'd like to be back near the Pacific someday. Either that or he wants to make enough money so his wife can quit her job and join him in Columbus.

"For sure, the fans in Columbus have a very special place in my heart, and this team is obviously a very special team to me," Schmid said. "It's a team that I've built."

Steve Davis is a Dallas-based freelance writer who covers MLS for ESPNsoccernet. He can be reached at BigTexSoccer@yahoo.com.

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