MLS Soccer

Sounders owner on team’s offseason: ‘We’re happy with where we’re at’

AP

Adrian Hanauer is heading into his first full season as majority owner of Seattle Sounders FC, but he says it doesn’t feel much different from his days as minority owner and general manager.

“Still stomachaches heading in the season, like every season,” he said.

In advance of every season — and during them, and after them — Hanauer seems to consider worry almost as part of his job description. But in most specific ways, he seemed upbeat three days before his team’s CONCACAF Champions League date with Club America.

Hanauer said it’s a series the Sounders can win. He likes the look of his club heading into its eighth Major League Soccer season. He likes the direction of the league. Indications are that interest in the club continues to grow.

No specific cause for stomachache on the list.

Here’s some of what Hanauer had to say Saturday after watching the Sounders train at Starfire Sports Complex:

▪ On the offseason: “We’re happy with where we’re at. We’re continuing with trying to improve our organization in all areas, continuing to try to innovate, continuing with trying to engage with our fans and grow the fan base, and continuing trying to improve the team. Obviously we had some objectives on the team side. … We wanted to get a little younger, add some speed. I think we’ve gotten part of the way there. If and when this (transfer of forward Obafemi Martins to China) gets over the finish line, then it provides some flexibility for us, and we can continue to reshape the team a little bit. But … the proof is in the pudding: win championships and grow our fan base. That’s what people are really looking for, the results.”

▪ On ticket sales and other indicators of interest: “Solid. Nothing overwhelming or underwhelming, just slow, steady growth.”

▪ On the new FieldTurf at CenturyLink Field: “Portland put this same pitch in two months ago. … We’ve talked to some of the people in Portland, they really like it. (Turf quality) is never really an issue early on. There is some degradation over time. Hopefully between us and the Seahawks — we’re able to manage the use as best we can through maintenance and good planning and balancing and number of uses — we can keep the pitch as good as possible as long as possible.”

▪ On the state of MLS and talk of expansion up to 28 teams: “I’m very happy with the trajectory. Expansion is unfortunate to keeping the team together and certainly can deal a blow, but I don’t think it’s crippling, and especially with the investments that teams are making in their academies and some of the quality coming up through those academies. More and more, we’re going to be able to be able to deal with the losses that come about.”

▪ Club America as CCL quarterfinal opponent: “Arguably every MLS team has a tough start if you assume the Mexican League is still arguably of higher quality, one through 18 roster-wise. They spend more money, and certainly quality is a reflection of the amount of money you can spend on your players to some degree. But we’re going to try to win it. We think we have a very good squad, good quality, it’s been a good preseason, spirits are good. First game at home: Hopefully we can get a good result and go down to Mexico City and have it hold up.”

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