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August 9, 2010 at 1:40 PM

Answering some of your many Sounders FC questions

The response for this Q&A mailbag by far exceeded all the previous editions. More than 50 comments and questions came in, which means I’ll have to pick and choose some to answer.

When only 10 to 15 questions were posted earlier in the year it was easier to get to all of them. I apologize in advance if I can’t get to your query — though to be fair, some were pretty obscure… 🙂

* * *

Q: Any chance we can get Hurtado back sooner than originally expected? When?

Well that depends on what your expectations were. The team certainly had aims of getting him back at some point this season, that’s why they only put him on injured reserve and not the season-ending injury list.

Hopeful expectations had him coming back by September/October and that’s certainly possible. Hurtado has declined interview requests while he recovers, but it’s clear at training everyday how strong he’s getting. I think it’s very possible that he plays this season.

Where will the CCL games be played? When do tickets go on sale?

All Seattle’s CONCACAF Champions League games will be played at Qwest Field, I think the crowd of 17,000+ for the preliminary-round game justifies that for sure. Tickets went on sale this morning (Monday, August 9), so have at ’em.

There had been some talk that Kasey was leaning toward retirement after this season, has his play of late helped him realize if he is still capable of playing at the level he expects to play. … also, if the season ended today who whould Adrian protect from expansion?

First, to address the Keller situation, I wrote this story a while back. It definitely sounds like he’s on board to play in 2011. I’d be VERY surprised if he didn’t.

When it comes to protecting guys in the expansion draft, I don’t know the exact rules and specifications. With two teams (Portland and Vancouver) plucking players this time, things could be different than in the last couple we’ve seen with Seattle and Philadelphia.

In a purely hypothetical, this is what I’d go with — assuming 11 senior players are protected along with four “developmentals”. Again, I’m not entirely up to speed of the specifics, but let’s not dodge the question and take a stab, even if it’s not at all what the actual rules will be.

Protected/Senior (11): Keller, Montero, Alonso, Hurtado, Fernandez, Nkufo, Zakuani, Parke, Jaqua, Gonzalez, Evans

Protected/Developmental (4): Nyassi, Seamon, Montano, Fucito

Unprotected (12): Boss, Estrada, Graham, Ianni, Levesque, Marshall, Noonan, Riley, Scott, Sturgis, Vagenas, Wahl

Q: Can I walk up to the ticket counter at qwest field on the day of the Monterrey game and buy a ticket? Will you save a ticket charge by doing so?

Very probably, I wouldn’t predict a sellout, but you never know. I’d guess you’d save around $10/$12/$15, but I haven’t dealt with Ticketmaster in a while.

What in the world is up with Brad Evans? I thought he was supposed to be in full training by the end of July?

This is a good question and we got our answer Saturday when Sigi Schmid said the midfielder hasn’t been responding well to treatment to recover from his knee injury and could miss the rest of the season.

Do you know the Sounders’ salary cap situation? Including allocation funds?

This obviously fluctuates throughout the year and I’m not sure any team in the league would just divulge that information just because people are curious. I think it’s pretty clear that Seattle doesn’t have much room, especially as they’re paying all those guys on IR within the cap as well.

Are you (front office) actively pursuing a 3rd DP?

I, along with many other reporters, have asked Sounders FC general manager Adrian Hanauer about this a couple times. While the team is open to adding another DP, Hanauer has made it seem as though the logistics just wouldn’t work out with the cap. To add a third DP, you have to allocate about 40% of your salary cap space to three players. With the team still active in three competitions (MLS, CCL, USOC), depth is at a premium, and adding a third DP would affect the team’s talent 1-24.

Don’t discount Montero as a third DP either…

For Adrian Hanauer: In the final episode of Sounders FC Weekly last season you said that this year Kasey Keller goalkeeper jerseys would be available for purchase. I haven’t heard any more about it. Is this still the plan? What color(s) might be available?

For anyone in the radio broadcast area: Any chance we could have the game audio (Arlo White play-by-play) available for download as a podcast or something similar? It would be nice to go back and listen to them.

I think I have seen goalkeeper jerseys on sale in team stores, but that might have been after you posted this question. I’ll try to remember to ask Arlo about podcasts the next time I see him, or you can ask him on Twitter (@arlowhite).

Are you done making moves this transfer window or could there be a suprise? Will Alvaro Fernandez be DP in 2011 or is it just his transfer fee making him one this year?

When the CBA was apporved and players were given guaranteed contracts, were they nfor more than this year ? Are you able to cut most of your players loose at the end of this year – if you wanted to – or are you tied to multi year contracts with most of them? What do you think about New Yorks DP’s? Do we have a different strategy from them? If you could go back to 2008, knowing what you know now, would you sign Freddie Ljungberg?

Yikes. Obviously I can’t pass these all along, so I’ll offer my opinions.

I think the phone lines are still open for Seattle to make moves, but I don’t anticipate any before August 15.

I think Alvaro’s situation as a DP will be fluid in the offseason, perhaps up until compliance day. Sounds like a contract that could go either way.

My impression are that contracts are guaranteed through this season, which means there could be a fair amount of turnover in the offseason. If Ljungberg didn’t have security into the 2011 season, I’m not sure many others do. But I could be wrong, especially with the veterans.

I think teams do vary on their approach to DPs. Some (RSL and Colorado) have steered away. New York has gone to the max. I’d put Seattle strategy in between, but focused more on having quality depth 1-24.

I’m not sure the team would sign Freddie again if they knew what they know now. I don’t think he’s missed. But I don’t think they regret the move either, and in my opinion they shouldn’t. They went after it, made a bold move, it didn’t work out. Things happen.

more of a request than a question.. or a suggestion to the Sounders powers that be.

It’s simple really.. I want Soundwave to record the Sounders theme song and make it a ring tone that I can buy for my iphone. I would pay 2.99 for that and be the happiest guy on earth.. at least for a couple hours. I am not sure I would ever answer my phone.. MAKE IT HAPPEN!!

Haha, here you go. It’s out there.

What are the players thoughts on Ljungberg’s departure? Happy? Did they like the guy? They seem to be playing with more energy and enjoying themselves better without him.

These are professional athletes, they’re used to seeing guys come and go. It’s the business. A reporter asked Montero after the Houston game if the Sounders miss Ljungberg from a tactical standpoint and the forward answered “Creo que no.”

“I don’t think so.”

Montero went on to say Ljungberg was a great, experienced player, but the team has moved on, and is scoring goals and winning games. That said, Ljungberg wasn’t completely unliked and I’m sure he’ll make a good impression in Chicago. It didn’t work out in Seattle, everyone has moved on.

How many, how busy and where are the Sounders FC scouts these days? How big a priority is that [scouting internationally] for SSFC and is that one thing that makes us unique in this league?

Not sure about actual scouts. I’m sure the names we’re familiar with (Hanauer, Henderson, Schmid) have the biggest say in scouting and finding talent. Obviously international scouting is huge, look at the Sounders roster and recent acquisitions. I’ve described the front office as “go-getters” multiple times, and in a hard salary-cap, scouting is the best way Seattle can separate itself from the rest of the league.

Could someone with the team, please give us a little better understanding of the injury Fucito is dealing with? But he had surgery over a month ago and not a single word on his progress or lack thereof. Is he getting any better?

I think I’ve provided a number of Fucito updates in the photo reel/training recaps. He’s doing more and more in training with each week. Recently he’s been a neutral in training — one step before full training — as well as working on the side. He could be back in full training within the next couple weeks.

Since CONCACAF tickets can’t be included in season tickets, and US Open Cup tickets just aren’t, it would be cool if when you bought season tickets, you had the option to enroll in pay-as-they-play for all tourneys. Just sayin’. I like MY seats. Any chance?

I talked to Adrian about the future of season-ticket packages here. Sounds like the team is open to changing things up, so we’ll see how things go. I know the team was in contact with the alliance folk recently to discuss certain topics with representatives of the fans as well.

If you could only watch one soccer movie, which would you choose: Victory, Bend It Like Beckham or Ladybugs?

Haha, not sure I’ll remember to pass this along, but put my vote in for Bend It Like Beckham. I’m half-Indian so maybe I’m a bit biased.

How commited are you to beating porkscum? Vancouver? Here is one for MLS in general: When are you going to let successful teams spend the profit they make instead of subsidising ohter teams like KC and Dallas?

I would say very. We’ll cover the first question more next season, but the Pacific Northwest rivalry could be the highlight of MLS in my opinion.

The second question is a tricky one. With only two teams in the league making a profit, I would imagine the whole single-entity, parity-encouraging infrastructure will stay for a while.

Given the backlash on the Le Toux non-protection, how about a fan generated “protect” list as an FYI to the FO?

Any idea where 2011 pre-season international training may take place? I’d like to start my international travel planning early. How about Spain?

I like the first one. Fan vote is always the way to go, eh? Not sure 2011 preseason training is high on the minds of anyone either. Spain again sounds nice for the players I’m sure.

Simple yes no answer, if Steve Kelley stayed home next time, would you be willing to go to Central America for CONCACAF group play? Oh, and do you think you’d be able to supply more than one very non-descript article?

I’ve seen a number of disappointing comments along this vein. Let’s make this clear, Steve Kelley went to El Salvador on his own volition mixing business with pleasure.

I wasn’t going to go. Without Kelley — rushing to his hotel and having 10 minutes to write a story, no less — there would’ve been a very short, quoteless story in the paper, instead of a full cover story. Not sure any other publication (print or online) in the country had someone travel so far to cover a preliminary CCL game.

The fact that people went out of their way to be critical of this is boggles the mind.

Any word on when a reserve league will get started for MLS?

Nothing official, but it definitely sounds like it’s coming back. I would say sooner rather than later. All parties involved know that a reserve league is critical to the growth of the league and those guys know what they’re doing.

The MLS and Sounders have been using this ball for the entire season so far with nary a peep from our keeper or the players. Have they have any issues with the new ball?

I’ve written a story or two on this topic, particularly around the World Cup. Montero says he likes it, which is no surprise considering his success.

For the most part you hear what everyone else has been saying. It’s unfair and unpredictable, but 4-5 months into the season they’ve come to live with it. Keller and Ljungberg both scoffed at the Jabulani though.

Read about the possibility of 34 games next year. I think it makes sense with the addition of Vancouver and Portland. What do the players, coaches, FO think about that?

How does the homegrown talent policy work exactly, affect the salary cap? Is there anyone that stands out from our academy teams that could be our next “star”?

I would say the 34-game schedule is very possible, but I think the league would have to expand roster and increase the salary cap to accommodate such a move. I would say there’s a fair amount of support for a balanced schedule.

I think homegrown players are exempt from the salary cap. The Sounders academy is a fledgling one, so I don’t anticipate any signings any time soon, but it’s certainly something to keep an eye on.

Have they considered making a run at any of the unaffiliated USMNT guys in Europe? If other MLS teams are spending millions for 30 something foreigners, who will be the first to bring in a guy who could really sell some jerseys and help the play on field. Names like DeMerit, Feilhaber, Adu come to mind. (Hell, why not Michael Bradley. Is he going to top the $25 million rafa got in europe right now? Doubt it. Joking here.) So is this kind of move ever under consideration?

I wouldn’t be surprised if Adu and DeMerit come to MLS at all. Not sure if either are a good fit for Seattle, but I’d like to see them in the league. I wouldn’t mind seeing guys like Eddie Johnson and DaMarcus Beasley come stateside either.

I want to know what the plans are with the Youth Academy as well. What organizations have they studied? What do they think of the Ajax model. What’s the rules regarding the youth academies and homegrown talent? Can they find kids in South America and bring them through like in Europe or does it have to be local kids?

I’ll make a note to catch up with some guys in charge of the academy. Maybe for something more in-depth before the 2011 season.

Although I do not think he would answer this directly, ask Sigi if the USMNT head coaching position became available, would he be interested in that job.

Also, I respect your opinion on post-game player rankings, your coverage of the team is excellent, and your reporting is well done. It’s clear you have played soccer. What’s your experience with the sport, how long have you played, do you still play, etc?

That’s something I’ve had on my mind to ask Schmid, but until Bob Bradley has the job, there’s really nothing to ask.

My playing history: 3-year varsity letterman at Bellingham High School. That’s it.

Are any of the CCL road games going to be on FSC in HD? And if so what bar can I see the game in because my FSC is not HD. In fact it is like anti-HD, I feel like I’m playing an old nintendo game when I watch a games.

I think they will all be on FSC, and what they call HD. It’s definitely a bit more difficult to watch the game on that channel, no argument from me there.

What is your optimal line up for the Sounders?

How about the one that’s won four-straight? I wouldn’t change a thing from what we’ve seen in the starting XI the last few games. Sturgis and Nyassi are often viewed as weak links, but I think they’ve both been great recently.

Though I guess it’s more fun to have someone to be critical of, even during a hot streak.

Will Fernandez and Nkufo need to be listed on our protected list for the expansion draft or are they exempt as DPs? Do they have no-trade clauses in their DP contracts?

A good question. I addressed the expansion draft earlier and said I wasn’t sure of the specifics. When the expansion draft nears I’m sure we’ll have more answers.

i just noticed on the “from the pitch” blog on that it seems zakuani is the only player to blog anything..and it was all world cup stuff. so, why don’t more players/coaches blog “from the pitch”?

Not sure. I know Kasey Keller updates his own blog fairly often. Guys like James Riley and a few others are on Twitter. Other outlets to interact with the fans might be the reason the blog on the team site isn’t updated.

Why isn’t there a link from comments back to Blog Home?

You can scroll over the Sounders FC bar at the top and click on “Blog.” Or maybe I’m not understanding your question, in which case I’ll say I don’t understand much of the web stuff anyways.

Do you think we can relate the stretch of good results during the busy schedule to the fact that all the early injuries gave a lot of players more experience playing in game situations?

While there were a lot of factors that played into the bad stretch, I think the good stretch is also due to a combination of things (health, stability, effort, Montero, good fortune, etc.). But I understand your point, and it does kind of seem like there are more than 11 starters on this team, if that makes sense.

Since the World Cup has been over for a month now, could you please replace the interactive World Cup Guide with a similarly designed Champion’s League Guide?

I would say it’s very doubtful that will happen. I believe the World Cup guide was a purchased ap and I’m not sure if that service is available for the CCL.

Who cares about some … sports writer?!?

Well said. These are all just the meaningless thoughts of a sportswriter. It’s all about the team, the fans and the results.

I hope this wasn’t a waste of your time, however.


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