Graham Smith, Ventura County Fusion Manager, Speaks on the Seattle Sounders

Joe NixonCorrespondent IFebruary 17, 2009

Graham Smith, manager of the Ventura County Fusion, is a man who knows football. Just ask anyone in the Ventura County Fusion organization, from general manager Ranbir Shergil to the Fusion soccer players themselves.

Even in the dismal mood following the Seattle Sounders' 6-1 drubbing of their side, Mr. Smith, a former manager in England, demonstrated some of his knowledge when discussing the future of the Seattle Sounders franchise.

“You know there are some that believe with an expansion franchise, you have to let them settle in first for a season or two. I know Sigi [Schmid] will not for one moment subscribe to that view, not with this team.”

Smith echoed the sentiments of many Sounders fans when he described the exciting lineup of the Sounders with Steve Zakuani and Nate Jaqua both providing an exciting offensive duo, and indeed on the night they faced the Sounders, both players found the net twice.

Smith also had comments on other key players in the Sounders' lineup.

“Patrick Ianni, if he can fulfill the promise he showed as a younger player, should have an impact... With [Kasey] Keller and Chris Eylander, the Sounders will have one of the strongest sets of keepers in the MLS.”

Smith, though managing a team placed in a lower division on the American Soccer Pyramid, knows a lot about the MLS. Prior to the loss against the Sounders, the Ventura County Fusion had been undefeated in exhibitions with MLS sides.

His Ventura County Fusion became giant-killers in 2008 when they defeated Sigi Schmid’s Columbus Crew, then the reigning MLS Cup Champions, 1-0.

Smith spent his 251-match career playing for various football teams on the lower end of the English football pyramid, including Football League teams like Cambridge United and non-league teams like Tamworth. Mr. Smith's playing career sowed the foundations of a successful managing career in the 1980s.

Indeed it would be with the Tamworth Lambs with which Graham Smith would have his greatest success as a manager. Only four teams have won the FA Vase multiple times, and under Smith the Lambs managed to win this title twice in the late 1980s.

Mr. Smith retired from managing Tamworth in 1991, only to return managing the Ventura County Fusion in 2007.