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w/ U-20 MNT Head Coach Sigi Schmid

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This month’s short piece revolves around U.S. Under-20 head coach Sigi Schmid. The German-born coach talks about coming to the United States and the interesting dynamic there will be when he leads the U.S. against his birth country at the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship.

U.S. Under-20 head coach Sigi Schmid is looking forward to the challenge of facing Argentina, Germany and Egypt in Group D at the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship in June.

He wants to beat Argentina. He wants to beat Egypt. But he really, really wants to beat Germany.
“There’s nothing I’d rather do than win that game,” said Schmid, who was born in Germany before moving to the U.S. with his parents and his mother’s side of the family when he was four.

While he’s lived in America ever since, he traveled back to his home country almost every two years when he was growing up and says his German heritage is still very much a part of him.

“I always felt very German because when we came here my parents lived together with my grandparents, so all we spoke was German,” said Schmid, who was born in Tuebingen, West Germany on March 20, 1953. “When I came into school in first grade, I really didn’t speak English because all we had done was speak German.”

Schmid got more accustomed to his American lifestyle and began making his mark in soccer history in the U.S., first as a player and then as a coach at UCLA. A four-year starter in UCLA’s midfield from 1972-75, Schmid's successful career at the university led him into coaching as he became a UCLA assistant in 1977 and 1979, before eventually taking over the program in 1980.

During his 19 seasons at UCLA (from 1980-99), Schmid was one of the most successful coaches of all-time, accumulating a 322-63-33 (.810) record and leading the Bruins to a streak of 16 consecutive NCAA post-season appearances and three NCAA Division I National Championships.

Schmid also began coaching with U.S. Soccer in the early 1990s as a U.S. “B” Team coach and was an assistant on Bora Multinovic’s 1994 FIFA World Cup coaching staff. During his time as Mulitnovic’s assistant, Schmid got the chance to face Germany in June of 1993 (falling 4-3 in Chicago), but he knows going up against his birth nation as a head coach in an official competition will be a rare and special occasion.

“To stand there and listen to the U.S. national anthem and the German anthem, it will probably give me some goose bumps and some chills,” said Schmid.

It will also be an interesting occasion for the dozen or so relatives that will come out for the U.S.-Germany match on June 14 in Enschede, Holland, which is right near the German border.

“I’m sure their loyalties will be a little bit questioned in who they will be cheering for,” said Schmid, who got to visit his family this past April for a few days after the U-20s 10-day training camp in Holland. “I think they’ll be cheering for a close game that Germany wins.”

With just a handful of American fans (predominately players' families) making the trip to Holland, you can expect the German fans to be out in full force when they take on the U.S., making the U-20s challenge even that much tougher. But, for Schmid, he wouldn’t want it any other way.

“It’s going to be a great atmosphere,” he said. “There’s a lot of pride in their nationality. It’s a challenge for us, but one we’re looking forward to. We have the chance to show that we know what we are doing as well in soccer, or fussball, in America.”