Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer’s conference call coincided with the announced trade of Eddie Johnson to D.C. United. But he also discussed other issues, including the several transactions of last week.
Here’s the transcript:
Overview of recent changes: A lot of it has been driven by salary cap issues, and the cap challenges and the lack of allocation money to have flexibility with the roster. We also have wanted to and will continue to try to get stronger in different parts of the field, and maybe more balanced. … We had some priorities coming into the off-season, and we checked those off (he cites re-signing of Evans, Alonso and Gonzalez), and now trying to round out the roster. We certainly have I would say likely more moves ahead of us. And then transitioning into … a continued focus on the type of soccer, the type of character we want in the locker room and on the field. And we think we’ve added to that so far with some of our transactions, and as future transactions transpire it will probably be more of the same.
On making moves early in off-season: We went into this the day after the Portland series knowing there would be some big moves that would probably come about. We’ll try to be as set as possible on the first day of training camp. … No team is probably 100 percent settled come Jan. 20, or whenever we start, but we’re going to try to be more settled.
On the defensive changes: It was very difficult to see Michael Gspurning leave. We really like Michael as a goalkeeper and as a person. Great guy on and off the field, but again cap constraints made a transaction necessary. Stefan is a goalkeeper we have followed since he came out of Cal, liked very much. Obviously he’s had some injury challenges the last couple of years and then Joe Bendik came in and did a fantastic job for Toronto. But we think we got a very good young goalkeeper who’s going to continue to improve. And improved our cap situation dramatically. (closing in on marcus and ford back) We think we’re set well at the goalkeeper position. Chad was bringing in a proven former MLS defender of the year, dominating, poised, good locker-room guy, anpther high-quality defender into the group. That was one of our off-season priorities, to continue to upgrade ourselves defensive – especially at center back – and we think that Chad will have done that for us.
On benefit of shaking up roster: Yeah. It’s been five years. Obviously a lot of success – maybe not the pinnacle of success in our league. But this last year was inconsistent, so I guess we wanted to shake that up and try to create a scenario where we have more consistency. And as I mentioned before, it wasn’t the best locker room we’ve had. The locker room thing is a combination of a lot of factors, but it’s something that we considered, and some of these moves are mean to continue to consolidate and bring the group together.
On Clint Dempsey: Clint had a few niggling injuries that I know were really frustrating for him. I know he didn’t have a lot of production, but I actually thought he was starting to integrate there at the end and playing really good soccer. He probably could have had three or four assists. They didn’t go in the goal, but he certainly put himself in position to have three, four, five goals. We’re really, really excited to get Clint and have him for the full year. How that relates to Eddie, I’d probably (leave to Sigi Schmid). Clint did have something in his contract that would allow him to go on loan for the first couple of months here. Obviously the rumors are pretty rampant, and I think it’s likely, but until it’s done we won’t report it as done. But I do think it’s likely.
On parting with Steve Zakuani and Mauro Rosales: Both players, we’re very sorry to see go. I get very attached to the players. They’re part of family, obviously Steve from Day One, and Mauro for three years, so from that point it’s really difficult. … Mauro, we weren’t going to be able to come up with the contract that he was looking for. I’m actually very happy for Mauro, because I think that Chivas can be a great opportunity for him to be a real leader for them, have a huge impact on that franchise, and he was able to be in Los Angeles, which was a city that he was interested in living in. So as difficult as it was to lose Mauro, I’m happy for the way it transpired, and obviously we interested in trying to get Tristan Bowen signed and then that second allocation ranking from Chivas provides us with the opportunity perhaps to try to being another national team player back, which is always a risk but could end up being extremely valuable. … Steve, again, I’m disappointed to see him leave. Obviously the last couple of years have been rough with injuries, and certainly difficult to see him go to our rival to the south. But clearly Steve has a very good relationship with (coach Caleb Porter) and some of the players on that team. Again, same issue, we weren’t prepared to take the cap hit that was going to be required with Steve, so we knew there was a risk that he was going to end up somewhere else.
On remaining roster needs: Need to dot the i’s and cross t’s on Kenny Cooper and Tristan Bowen as step one. That’s maybe step one. We do have pretty good flexibility now. I would count on one or two more pretty major signings, potentially. They could be anywhere on the field. I think it’s far to say with Mauro and Steve going, that width in the midfield would potentially be area looking at. We could potentially still be interested in getting better defensively. Another sport in the midfield, or potentially adding another forward. I would say we’re still pretty far from the finished product.