ESPNsoccernet has learned that the 2008 MLS Coach of the Year Sigi Schmid, who led the Columbus Crew to the 2008 MLS Cup, will not return next season as head coach. Sources close to Schmid confirmed his decision.
In a statement released late Tuesday, Crew president and general manager Mark McCullers said that Schmid declined the soccer club's last contract offer. McCullers said the team respects Schmid's desire to seek "the next challenge" and wishes him the best.
"Sigi had always been very up front that he wanted to explore his options," McCullers said. "His family's in California and I know it's been very difficult for him being that far away from them."
The Columbus Dispatch reported Wednesday that Schmid met with officials from the expansion Seattle Sounders last week. Schmid has expressed a desire to become one of the MLS's highest-paid coaches while lamenting the difficulty of traveling to and from his family's home in southern California, the newspaper said.
Schmid, the first coach in MLS history to win a MLS Cup with two teams (2002 L.A. Galaxy and 2008 Columbus Crew), spent three seasons in Columbus.
To replace Schmid, Columbus is looking at coaching candidates from outside and within the organization, McCullers said.
"Internally, we certainly have a top coach in Robert Warzycha," he said, referring to the Crew's assistant coach.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.