- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 2, 2016

SEATTLE (AP) - The Seattle Sounders took away the interim tag and named Brian Schmetzer as their head coach Wednesday night.

Schmetzer took over as the interim head coach after Sigi Schmid was let go in late July. At the time, Seattle was in ninth place in the MLS Western Conference and in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

Schmetzer guided Seattle’s turnaround that resulted in an eighth straight playoff berth. The Sounders went 8-2-4 the rest of the regular season and finished fourth in the Western Conference. The Sounders beat Sporting Kansas City in the knockout round of the playoffs and will take a 3-0 lead into the second-leg of the conference semifinals against FC Dallas on Sunday.

Seattle made the announcement at its annual meeting with season-ticket holders.

“My goal is to make sure we can all enjoy this ride a little longer deep into the postseason,” Schmetzer said in a statement.

Taking away the interim tag from Schmetzer will be a popular choice among fans and players who have come to respect his lengthy history with the Sounders organization. Seattle’s turnaround late in the season was aided by the addition of designated player Nicolas Lodeiro, but also hampered by the absence of Clint Dempsey due to an irregular heartbeat that ended his season early.

Schmetzer led Seattle to the most points of any team in MLS over the final three months of the season and now have the Sounders on the verge of a spot in the conference finals.

“He has always been an incredible steward of the organization and ambassador for our club in the community, and what he and the team have accomplished on the field over the past three months is worthy of recognition,” Seattle majority owner Adrian Hanauer said.

Schmetzer, 54, was the head coach of the USL Seattle Sounders, the predecessor to the MLS version of the franchise. Schmetzer was the led the club from 2002-2008 before signing on to be Schmid’s top assistant coach when the MLS version of the Sounders debuting in 2009.

Schmetzer is also a Seattle native and played for the Sounders of the North American Soccer League for three seasons in the early 1980s.

“I am grateful for the opportunities that I’ve received here as a player, a coach in the club’s USL era, and now as head coach of the MLS team,” Schmetzer said. “I believe in the fact that for our players, this is their team, and they have responded by taking complete ownership of the season and driving us into the playoffs.”

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