TUKWILA, Wash. (AP) — As he walked off the practice field recently, Brian Schmetzer was greeted in a manner usually reserved for players.

The Seattle Sounders coach was pulled aside to sign a poster board, asked to pose for a cellphone picture with a fan and finally chased down to autograph — of all things — a shoe.

"I've still got another four hours of work," Schmetzer cracked with a grin as he walked away.

Schmetzer is a popular guy these days after leading a remarkable turnaround that has landed Seattle in Saturday's MLS title game at Toronto with a chance to add a major piece of hardware missing from the club's trophy case.

It's been a stunning climb, from the depths of the Western Conference standings in July when Schmetzer took over following the dismissal of Sigi Schmid, to the Sounders' position now.