Among the highlights:
They looked back on the 2012 season with ambivalence. They cited progress in advancing to the Western Conference final, but disappointment in failing to win a trophy and slipping to 56 points in the standings after reaching 63 the season before.
Neither outlined a single overriding area for improvement for the coming season. Schmid mentioned adding younger outside backs and depth at midfield. He indicated Christian Tiffert and Steve Zakuani could contribute more next year, when they will presumably be ready from the start of training camp in January. Asked specifically if he wants DP Fredy Montero back, Schmid said he wants all his players back.
Hanauer confirmed the club will exercise its option on goals-leader Eddie Johnson next season without bumping him up to DP status.
They indicated a general interest in keeping the core group together, if the salary cap issues allow it.
“There’s still growth that’s there,” Schmid said. “There’s still maturity that’s taking place. There’s leadership that’s taking place in the locker room that wasn’t there last year and for sure wasn’t there two or three years ago. … Obviously, there’s still another level for us to go, but I think we’re in view of the summit.”
HANAUER on following the DP model of the defending champion LA Galaxy: I’ll point out that when San Jose, Kansas City win their respective conferences, everyone anoints them the top two teams in MLS and everyone wants to duplicate their teams. And then they’re eliminated in the first round of the playoffs and now everyone is scrambling to figure out who the team they want to emulate is. Is it Houston or is it LA – because they both made MLS Cup, so surely those two teams must be the ones to emulate. Now, in fairness to those two teams: second year in a row, and they definitely have some great things going for them. But two teams that couldn’t be (more) different formulas in how you put together a winning team. … We want to be Seattle. We want to play the kind of soccer that we want to play. From Day One, we’ve said we want to play attacking, creative, offensive, goal-scoring soccer. And I think we’ve done that. We want results. We want to win trophies. We’ve done that. For sure we want to do it better. But we don’t want to be reactive. We want to have a philosophy, believe in that philosophy, maintain that philosophy. Certainly question it at the end of every year – probably more often than that. We want to be sure we’re going the right direction. But again, just to be clear, we don’t want to be LA. We just don’t. And again, LA is a different market. In order to get anyone’s attention in LA and have anyone in LA know there was a team in LA, they needed guys like David Beckham and Robbie Keane, and certainly Landon Donovan has done a good job of that as well. But it’s also had them sign players like Abel Xavier and various other big-name players who didn’t quite work out for them. … But we continue to be interested in dreaming big and continuing to look at players who can be game-changers for us. … I think it’s fair to say that none of our designated players in the playoff series that we’ve played in the history of our existence have carried the team on their back. And that doesn’t mean any of our current DPs couldn’t do that, or won’t do that in the future. But for sure … we would like to have players – whether they are designated players or non-designated players – who can carry a team on their back and get the team over the hump.
For sure how we handle the team and the salary structure and roster is important. And we try to be fair in the way we look at contracts.
HANAUER on keeping current DPs Montero, Tiffert and Mauro Rosales: Something’s got to give. Either we need to sell a player and get allocation money, we need to renegotiate contracts, we need to have one less DP. Something has to give. But something usually has to give every eyar. It’s not like this is the first time we’ve ever dealt with this. So we’ll figure it out.
HANAUER on ownership spending: Those conversations are ongoing right now. And I think that yes, they are shifting. Our business is stable now. Obviously we feel great about our support. We still want to run a rational business and a business that’s sustainable. But we do think that there’s an opportunity to maybe push the envelope a little bit. Again, that doesn’t mean we will. It only means that we’ll make changes that we think will make our team better clearly. We don’t want to spend more money just for the heck of it.
HANAUER on the Sounders’ record-attendance and spending: Forty thousand is one time component of a big business that has a lot of moving parts: that has revenue sharing, that has enormous levels of expenses to get those fans in the stadium and provide a great experience, that doesn’t understand the expenses on the technical side in some of the areas that I mentioned, whether it’s sports medicine or scouting or facilities or youth systems or transfer fees on designated players. So that said, what I can’t do is react to the message boards or the irrational math of whoever decides they know what going into running and the P&L statement of a major league sports franchise. … We have always felt that we were stewards of this franchise for the community. It’s certainly not to get rich off the cash flow of the business. … We will continue to reinvest.
HANAUER on whether leading the league in attendance means they lead the league in revenue: I believe that today we have the most ticket revenue. … But again, sponsorship is a huge piece of revenue. TV contracts, big piece of revenue: local TV contracts. Merchandise. Youth programs. Other forms of revenue. Again, I’m not going to place us in the league. We are certainly in the top third of franchise in terms of total revenue – I’m not going to go into detail. Fans are right in thinking that we’re one of the teams with a higher level of revenue.
SCHMID overview on the season: We’re always a little bit dissatisfied when we don’t achieve those very lofty goals, but those goals are also within our reach. … No offense to the Cascadia Cup because I know it’s very important to our fans, but you really play for three big trophies each year and that’s MLS Cup and that’s U.S. Open Cup and you also play for the Concacaf Champions tournament. For four our years in existence we’ve been in 11 of those tournaments and we’ve won three trophies and we’ve lost in the final in one as well. There’s no other team in the league that’s won three trophies in that amount of time. Is the MLS Cup more important? Yes, to a certain extent, and that’s the trophy we would want. So maybe LA, if they win again on Sunday, having two MLS Cups in that period of time makes them a little more productive with us. But overall I’ve been extremely proud of what we’ve done over the four years. … We’re within view of the summit. … We’ll put a very competitive team on the field again next year.
SCHMID on if the current core is still growing or growing stale: I think the growth is still evident. (Cites Evans, Alonso, Parke, Hurtado, Johnson, Zakuani). There’s still growth that’s there. There’s still maturity that’s taking place. There’s leadership that’s taking place in the locker room that wasn’t there last year and for sure wasn’t there two or three years ago.
SCHMID on Tiffert (after citing goals by Montero and assists by Rosales): In regard to Christian Tiffert, I think when you come in at midseason it’s always more difficult. If you remember (Alvaro) Fernandez’s first half year here compared to his first full season there was a significant improvement. For Christian there was a little bit of a learning curve dealing with the travel for the first time and all of those. Expectations probably were a little bit higher that he would give us a little bit more coming in as a midseason DP. But when you look at all the factors it was probably not that disappointing.
SCHMID on wanting Montero back: I want all my players back. Adrian probably accuses me of being too attached to players. I don’t know, I’m a family guy; it’s that thing. … Everything at the end of the day depend on what your options are and what you have to do for your team. … So with regard to Fredy, yeah, I want him back. But if there’s a situation that presents itself we have to look at it.
SCHMID on Galaxy’s DPs: The money is really a side issue of the whole thing. The situation is you’re dealing with guys who: Robbie Keane’s been captain of Ireland, Beckham’s been captain of England, Donovan’s been captain of the U.S. Between those three guys when you add it up, it’s almost 400 caps. That’s a huge amount of experience. That’s a huge amount of leadership. They’re not always doing it, but when you’re all pulling the rope in the same direction, they get up a pretty good head of steam, and it’s easy for the other guys to follow. And so we don’t have that same level of maybe experience and leadership in our DPs as they have.