Sounders FC hit the road Thursday for a 5:30 p.m. game Saturday against Sporting Kansas City. Meanwhile, general manager Adrian Hanauer...
Sounders FC hit the road Thursday for a 5:30 p.m. game Saturday against Sporting Kansas City. Meanwhile, general manager Adrian Hanauer caught up with The Seattle Times to discuss the transfer window, homegrown signings, a new turf surface for CenturyLink Field and more.
Q. The international transfer window closes on Aug. 15 and the Sounders have made one move so far. Did you anticipate that some transactions might take time or have things been more difficult than expected?
Hanauer: Maybe I’m little more skeptical or pessimistic when it comes to the transfer window so my expectations are that it’s going to be more complicated than it should be. In this transfer window it’s been no different than what I expected. It seems like transactions when you’re dealing with so many different parties all over the world with different agendas never go smoothly. That said, I’m still extremely optimistic that there will still be some activity for us before the end of the window.
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Q. It’s probably safe to say a contingent of fans are eagerly, and maybe impatiently, anticipating those moves. How does that affect you?
Hanauer: I think if anyone says they don’t pay attention or they don’t let that sort of pressure and passion get to them, they’re probably stretching the truth a little bit. That said, I’ve been doing this for 10 years with the sole intent of doing right by our fans and doing right for the team for the long haul — with completely pure intentions and motives. Fans may or may not know that, but that allows me to not react too quickly and too emotionally and too irrationally to what’s being said around me, what the general consensus is and what emotions may be flowing within and outside our organization.
Q. What are some of the factors you consider when weighing offers from international teams for your players?
Hanauer: First of all, you have to weed through what’s rumor and what actually has a bit of reality connected to it. Once that happens then it’s really what’s good for the club and what’s good for the player. We want to be a club that is known for looking out for itself but also looking out for its players and not getting in the way of good opportunities for them. If we help create good opportunities for players then more players will want to come here. We certainly get a lot of media attention and we get a lot of national television broadcasts, so it’s a good place for players to showcase themselves. Ultimately then it becomes a complete balancing act, especially when there are inquiries in the transfer window we’re in right now, because first and foremost we want to win championships. We can’t be sending arguably our best players — because generally teams come after players that are doing well for you — away in the middle of our season and try to win a championship at the same time.
Q: You had a Tanzanian player, Mrisho Ngassa, trying out recently and I also saw an ad during your broadcast of Saturday’s game about visiting Tanzania. How would you describe how that relationship is going, both on the field and off?
Hanauer: As far as Ngassa goes, he did well in training with us and earned a few minutes on the field against Manchester United. We will continue to be in contact with his club. One possible scenario has him joining us in preseason next year, but we would have to have cooperation with his club, Azam, for that to happen. That’s sort of one step on the path to hopefully having a bigger, broader relationship in that country. Stepping back away from the specifics of Ngassa, the tourism commercials are part of a separate relationship we’re trying to develop. Then there’s a third piece that we haven’t really made much noise about, nor will we until we’re a little further along, that is a more philanthropic, global-health initiative. Our hopes long-term are that it would be a three-prong entry into the marketplace: one on the sporting side, one on the business side, then the third as a community-outreach portion of the relationship. And who knows? Maybe others will develop as well.
Q. We’ve seen academy players training with the first team. Are you closer to a homegrown signing?
Hanauer: To be frank, we haven’t seen (enough) to want to sign one of our homegrown players to a professional contract yet. Most of our academy players are going away to college and we think that group could use a year or two. We’ll see how they develop and we retain their rights in MLS, so if a player goes away to school as does well as a goalkeeper or bangs away goals we can always revisit it.
Q. Is there any update on replacing the CenturyLink Field turf?
Hanauer: I think we’re making very good progress in conversations with FieldTurf. It’s still highly likely — almost certain — that we’ll have a new surface for next season.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org