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March 15, 2011 at 10:24 PM

Reaction from Hanauer and others on Nkufo’s departure

Seattle Sounders FC Logo.jpgI’ll update this thread as I transcribe, starting with general manager Adrian Hanauer. More from coach Sigi Schmid later.

* * *

(Q: What went wrong?)

Hanauer: “I think some of it is going to be left behind closed doors but, again, we sat down and it was mutual as Sigi said. O’Brian White is starting to play well. Nate Jaqua is coming back from injury. Certainly from a team management standpoint, the cap and cap management is a big part of what we have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. There is a part to the league rules that says (this has to be) done before the beginning of the regular season. You can’t do it a game or two or three in.”

(Q: Clarification on the rule)

Hanauer: “What I’m saying is, if three games into the season we had this mutual situation we couldn’t have done it three games into the season because if Blaise was still in Seattle he (would have counted toward) a roster spot and salary cap.”

Q: Why wasn’t this done earlier?

Hanauer: “Again, if you consider that it was mutual, I think that getting as much information early on for both parties was what everyone was after. Other than the fact that it’s kind of a big story on opening night, which is unfortunate, there’s really no negative — at least from the club standpoint — to this happening later rather than earlier. We open up a lot of cap space because Blaise was on the cap at $335,000. It gives us an opportunity to address other needs if we see them immediately or during the summer, if that’s something we’re interested in. It opens up another designated player slot for us. So it creates a lot of options.”

Q: Considering your success with DPs, is dropping a bag of money on these players trickier than it looks?

Hanauer: “Oh, for sure it’s trickier than it looks. You can even go back through the history of DPs in this league and I’d say that there are less examples of huge successes than examples of failures. That said, Blaise was very good for us last year. Again, there was no huge drama on this conversation. The other thing is some DPs are bags of money. Blaise as it relates to designated players is not “bags of money.” So if in fact that ownership at some point — and this is still in the negotiation phase — if the ownership group has to write a check to clear some space, it’s not going to be heaps of cash that finalizes this scenario.”

Q: Was the absence of playing time his biggest issue?

Hanauer: “The playing piece is more a conversation with Sigi. … Certainly as it relates to playing, I won’t get into specifics with what it was or might have been.”

Q: Like Ljungberg last year, was there the potential for chemistry or tension here?

Hanauer: “I think every situation is so different. Certainly the irony isn’t lost on me that Ljungberg went out last year. Blaise came in. We went on a run, did very well. Blaise is on his way out. Again, this was mutual, but it certainly was unlikely to happen if we didn’t feel that ultimately we’re going to be a better team in the long run. Again, tonight was painful, but as Sigi said there are 33 more games, 99 points still out there to get. From a timing standpoint my only true disappointment is that maybe this story gets more play than opening night and the great crowd and our fans.”

Q: What happens with his rights now? Can you trade him and get picks?

Hanauer: “I’m going to leave the negotiations and the rules that are sort of in play off to the side for now. The arrangement is being finalized right now.”

Q: Do you think Blaise still wants to play?

Hanauer: “I’d love to say, ‘You should ask Blaise.’ He’s not here to answer himself. I don’t know, is I guess the best answer. There’s no hiding the fact that Blaise is toward the end of his career. Everyone knows his family is in Vancouver. I wouldn’t want to answer for him, but I would think that if a good opportunity were there he would want to play. If a not-so-good opportunity was there, he wouldn’t want to play.”

Q: For clarity sake, is it fair to say you told him he wasn’t in your plans?

Hanauer: “For clarity sake, I would say it’s safe to say that we mutually agreed that … he didn’t want to be in our plans and we didn’t think it was best if he was in our plans.

Q: How much does Rosales factor into this?

Hanauer: “None.”

Q: Even though he’d demand a high salary?

Hanauer: “Again. It’s unrelated. Given the advanced stage of those negotiations, we were going to be able to fit Rosales either way.”

Q: So is that going to happen?

Hanauer: “I am extremely, extremely hopeful. All things look positive. But until the final pieces come together I guess I don’t want to count it until it’s a done deal.”

* * *

Q: When did you know O’Brian White would be starting?

Schmid: “We knew that a couple days ago.”

Q: Why did you ultimately decide with Nkufo to cut ties?

Schmid: “Blaise and I spoke a few days ago. We just met and we went over different things. It was just a mutual decision that it was probably good to move on at this stage, that it wasn’t working in terms of his situation, our situation, but it was very mutual. There were no problems, there were no issues, there was no problem with professionalism or anything like that. He’s a very professional player and he’s a quality player, but after we met we realized that maybe at this time it was best to go on.”

Q: Do you think he’ll continue playing?

Schmid: “Don’t know. There are different options that are being looked at right now and that are being worked upon.”

Q: When you talked to Blaise did you inform him that he wasn’t going to be starting?

Schmid: “No. That was not the conversation.”

* * *

(In the locker room, this Kasey Keller quote from The News Tribune)

Keller: “It’s obviously never a good timing when you lose a player right before the season starts. If this happens five or six weeks ago you have time to replace him, where that kind of left us a little high and dry, which is a little frustrating. But we have a good squad. It’s not about people who aren’t here, or people who don’t want to be here. It’s about the team that’s here and the team that stepped on the field today, and the team that stepped on the field today did enough to get a result.”


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