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December 15, 2011 at 12:08 PM

GM Hanauer discusses DPs, turnover, Arlo, Keller and more

hanauer mug.jpgIt’s been busy offseason so far, with nine players from last year already gone and a pair of additions, as well. I got the chance to catch up with Adrian Hanauer, general manager and part owner, the other day to discuss a variety of topics. Here’s the transcript of that conversation:

* * *

(What can you offer on the potential DP status of Mauro Rosales for next season?) “His contract qualifies as a DP contract. But, first, we don’t disclose terms. Second, our contracts are sometimes complicated and convoluted. All that said, it could be qualified as a DP contract, but we could also use allocation money potentially to buy it down to the point where it’s not a DP contract. That would give us flexibility to bring another DP in — could be a young DP that hits at a lower cap amount. We didn’t decide on it because we want to leave ourselves maximum flexibility. I think it’s likely it will end up being a DP contract, but we didn’t want to commit one way or the other.”

(There seems to be a little confusion out there with some fans surrounding the DP status of Alvaro Fernandez. Will he remain a DP also?) “Yes, he will. It’s based on the money he’s being paid plus the transfer fee divided by the number of years (on the contract). That will always push it over.”

(Some unexpected losses, for the fans at least, were Terry Boss and Erik Friberg. How much did you know about those potential situations in advance and how much were you able to prepare accordingly?) “Terry’s was definitely unexpected. By the time we released the information it wasn’t unexpected; we had known about it for a bit and were just processing it, dealing with it, talking to Terry and his agent, and triple-confirming that this was about to happen. But I think it was a surprise to Terry, as well, who did the neuropsych exams and saw enough medical personnel that convinced him that this was the right decision.

“As far as Erik goes, we’d been having conversations since the end of the season. This was a tough decision for him, as well, and for his girlfriend. He really did like it here and really could see himself coming back here sometime in the future, but he felt like his ultimate responsibility was to his family and his unborn child, and with just the family support there that it was the right thing to do. Although we were disappointed and we would have loved to have Erik back, and we take our business very seriously, life is more important than soccer. And happy soccer players make productive soccer players. If he wasn’t going to be 100-percent all in, then we had to find a good solution. In the end, Erik was prepared to stay if all else failed, but we wanted to find a good solution and he wanted to find a good solution. We got Erik on a free when he came from Sweden, so we were willing to be extremely reasonable in transferring him back to Sweden, which means that we did get a transfer fee, but it was relatively insignificant in the world of soccer. It does provide with a little bit of allocation money that can help us with what we need to do to either replace Erik or bolster our roster in another area.”

(So by getting a transfer fee, he was under contract?) “Yeah, he would have to be under contract with us in order for us to transfer him. If we hadn’t taken his option up, for instance, he would’ve been a free and signed for any team abroad for no compensation. That’s why, even at a time where we knew this was a possibility, we exercised the option and went ahead and protected Erik, because we anticipated something like this happening, or him being in Seattle and living with it.”

(Some fans had wondered about that, protecting him in the expansion draft if you had an idea it could happen. But did the league rule of having to protect three internationals also almost play your hand there?) “Yeah, that for sure played a role in it.”

(I was on vacation at the time, and I think you explained it to others already, but can you shed a little more light on the Montano departure and the issue of getting any compensation or not?) “The way that went down is Montreal took him off our books at a time when we were, I don’t want to say ‘desperate,’ but definitely in need of getting player- and cap room to make room on the 20-man roster for Sammy Ochoa. They basically said, ‘If we’re going to take him off your books and pay him and help you, we need something in return.’ So it was, ‘OK, if you want to sign him and you commit to signing him, we’ll just let him go.’ It was another case of not wanting to get in the way of someone who wasn’t going to be 100-percent happy otherwise.”

(Did you anticipate this much turnover? Is it concerning at all to have such change to a group that last year had success?) “We certainly anticipated a great deal of it. Obviously the Terry Boss situation took us a little bit by surprise. Erik was a question mark. There were always going to be difficult discussions and decisions on Pat and Nate. Obviously with Kasey we knew what was going on. With Miguel we knew what was going on. We knew we were going to lose someone in the expansion draft and we feel like we were in a position to make our team stronger through the trade of Tyson — getting the allocation money.

“Again, last year we had 32 players. So the (loss of nine) puts us at 23, plus Gspurning and Burch puts us at 25. We’re obviously going to sign a right back, that’s 26. We’re looking at a forward and a midfielder, that could be 27. We have the draft, so our first-round draft pick (could be 28). We have a Trinidad combine. We’re going to be very quickly faced with the opposite problem, which is that we’d like to keep 34 players and we’re not going to be able to.”

(With the somewhat expected retirement of Boss, have you been able to get a jump start on other goalkeeper options?) “We’re very happy with our young goalkeepers, with Meredith and Ford. That said, we will probably bring another veteran and maybe another rookie into preseason and let them all duke it out. Michael is the assumed starter, but he’s got to come in and train hard and obviously be healthy on opening day.”

(Is three still the number you’d look to carry at the position?) “Yeah.”

(How about a different kind of replacement search? The one for Arlo White’s successor: How’s that going?) “Again, just like on the player front, we knew this was coming before the announcement. We’ve been doing the work since we knew about it to prepare. I’d compare him in the same way that we talked about Kasey Keller; you’re not going to replace Arlo White. Clearly NBC saw that’s he’s one of a kind. But we’re going to find someone else great, and hopefully that person will get a great Seattle welcome and in their own way capture the attention and the imagination and passion of our fans, as well.”

(Is there any progress in knowing what Keller’s role will be next year?) “Yes, we are making progress and having very good conversations. There’s no deadline. Kasey has got a lot of things going on and enjoying his first freedom in 20-some-odd years, so I don’t think either of us are urgently trying to get it locked it. But we are having great conversations and optimistic that we’ll come together with a role that we can announce in the not-too-distant future.”


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