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January 27, 2011 at 12:17 AM

Hanauer talks about the friendly, Baudet, TechFit and more

I caught up with Sounders FC general manager Adrian Hanauer the other day to address a number of different issues surrounding the organization. Keep reading if you’re interested in updates on the 2011 friendly (or non-update in that case), the future of Julien Baudet, that once-scheduled trip to Turkey, the Hawks Nest, season-ticket sales and those adidas TechFit uniforms.

* * *

About that friendly that everyone is waiting for…

Hanauer: “I’m hesitant to say ‘Yes, we’re very close,’ again. I feel like I’ve said that every week for the last two months. We feel like we’re getting really, really close but these things are so delicate.”

There are so many moving parts when it comes to these kinds of things, and it probably gets exponentially worse the bigger the opponent. If you remember, a top-five club was promised. Either way, Sounders FC is hopeful it’s near an announcement and the end of this drawn-out saga but we’ll see.

About that Julien Baudet guy…

Hanauer: “We’ve been in continual conversation with Julien’s agent. We’ve given him the green light to look at possibilities overseas. We’ve been very up front about our depth at center back in the fact that we don’t see him currently as a starter for our team. We feel like we’ve got great depth, especially now that we’ve drafted Leo Cruz. I think Julien sees himself as probably a starter in this league, so we wanted to be very honest about the situation. On top of that, we’re extremely stretched from a cap perspective and there’s very realistic expectations that we’ve tried to be up front about in terms of salary. All of those things combined to date have meant that Julien is not coming in and we’re not pressing the issue.”

Baudet came to Seattle with Danny Earls from Colorado in exchange for the rarely used Peter Vagenas, who in turn is out of work after going unpicked in December’s re-entry draft. So expecting much in that deal would be unrealistic.

Earls has been getting a shot in camp, but he still has to battle to even make the team. That in itself is a decent return for a reserve center mid. Also, Baudet made about $180,000 last year for the Rapids, so you can probably imagine what he might demand financially. In the end it wouldn’t be worth it for perhaps a fourth-choice center back.

Also you’ll notice the options Seattle will let him pursue are in foreign leagues. Compensation would be required if he wants to play elsewhere in MLS.

About that canceled Turkey trip…

With CONCACAF Champions League again on the schedule, Hanauer said the team would rack up enough frequent-flier miles “and we didn’t need another 12,000.”

There was also some concern that the team might not be able to find enough quality games over there. Also, Hanauer figured most of the guys would prefer to train domestically if given the choice.

About the report that you’re closing the Hawks Nest this year…

Hanauer: “I’m not sure that it’s 100-percent decided, but we’re leaning that way.”

Obviously Microsoft has some say in that decision since it’s prime advertising space. Sounders FC also wants to make sure there’s enough demand to warrant that change.

Hanauer said he thinks the team will increase season-ticket sales from last year’s 32,000, “but it doesn’t look like it’ll be a big enough increase to immediately open that Hawks Nest.”

About season-ticket sales plateauing…

Admittedly, you always want more, Hanauer said. But a total above 32,000 “in an extremely challenging economy” isn’t so bad either.

Hanauer: “We’re still growing the roots. We’re still building the base. We’re still expanding the next generation of fans. For us to believe that we could increase the number of season-ticket holders 10,000 per year is not realistic. … A season-ticket base of over 30,000 is good for just about any team in the world.”

About those new uniforms and those straps…

Certainly uniform designs aren’t the biggest concern for a general manager and I’m hesitant to even post this here and juxtapose it with actual news. There has been a pretty strong backlash to the new look, however.

In the end, Hanauer said there has been negative feedback for just about every launch of a new jersey — from the original Rave Green to the Electricity Yellow. And the fans you usually hear from are the ones that dislike something. People that like ’em and are buying ’em are less likely to post a comment or send an email.

Ultimately, jersey sales will be the determining factor on how big the issue is. And those straps are just a feature on adidas’ new TechFit design.

Hanauer: “It is a performance issue, and if it helps us get one more point, I’ll gladly trade one more point for people not liking the design. Because my job is to get points.”

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