Seattle Sounders FC passed another milestone Thursday on their way to their inaugural season, signing veteran goalkeeper Kasey Keller (see post below).
So, what next?
FC general manager Adrian Hanauer said that the Sounders were first in line for the signing of Keller because as an expansion team they had first rights in the MLS allocation of national team players returning to the league. Having taken Keller, they now move to the bottom of that allocation list.
However, the signing doesn’t hurt the Sounders’ signing abilities in any other ways. They can, for example, still can make a high-profile designated player signings… and in fact, they seem interested in doing so if they can find the right guy.
Who’s the right guy?
Here’s Hanauer: "We remain out there looking and prodding and trying to find probably an attacking player that would fit that mold. … If we can find the right player for the team with the right chemistry and again that pride and everything that is important to us, other than just a mercenary player, then it certainly is out there as a possibility. … It’s not a definite, but if an opportunity is out there that fits, we will not be shy about it.”
Even aside from another high-profile signing, Hanauer still has a long to-do list, highlighted by naming a coach and filling out his roster. He is, in fact, heading down to South America on another scouting mission in just a matter of days.
Here’s Hanauer again: “We will continue to be opportunistic. We’re not going in any particular order. Certainly we still have coaching decisions to make and we’ll continue working on player issues as well. But we’re in no rush. We have almost eight months until the start of the season. We don’t need to have everyone signed by September.
He said the coaching search will pick up in September and October, as the current MLS season nears its close. Hanauer agreed that could be read as a signal that they have some interest in an existing MLS head coach or assistant.
Meanwhile, he said signing a keeper like Keller can’t do anything but increase the pool of coaches interested in the job.
“I think the more quality players we have on the roster and ready to play, the more attractive it becomes,” Hanauer said. “There are more pieces to the puzzle that make sit attractive: the passion, as Kasey mentioned, the way people have embraced the team here, makes it extremely attractive. We are through the grapevine hearing of a lot of coaches who would be interested in coming to Seattle.”
I asked Hanauer if the signing of a 38-year-old keeper who plans to play only a couple of more seasons would affect who the Sounders would try to sign as a No. 2 keeper.
He initially said no, but then quickly turned the conversation to USL Sounders’ keeper Chris Eylander.
“We signed Kasey because we think Kasey is a spectacular goalkeeper and a great signing for the club,” Hanauer said. “Where we go from here will be dealt with independently.
“It goes without saying that Chris Eylander is a great young talent with the USL Sounders and we sat down with Chris a week ago and told him this was likely to happen. I hope in my heart that we are able to sign Chris as well and Chris gets a chance to develop and learn from arguably the best goalkeeper in U.S. history.”
There have been longtime assumptions that Eylander seemed a logical signing for FC, so Hanauer said he gave Eylander early notice last week that the Keller signing seemed likely.
“Of course, (Eylander had) a little bit of mixed feelings,” Hanauer said. “Chris is a spectacularly talented young goalkeeper, he’s had a lot of interest from MLS, arguably could be a starter in MLS. But again, the opportunity to work with a guy like Kasey could make him a lot better for another … 15 years of his career.”