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January 13, 2012 at 3:10 PM

Post-SuperDraft thoughts from Schmid, Hanauer and Henderson

Seattle Sounders FC Logo.jpgFollowing Thursday’s MLS SuperDraft, Sounders FC officials held a conference call with reporters to discuss the day’s happenings. Coach Sigi Schmid, general manager Adrian Hanauer and technical director Chris Henderson all fielded questions and here is the transcript of the draft-related material:

* * *

(Can you tell us a little bit about Andrew Duran?)

Schmid: “He’s player that’s very two-footed. He’s comfortable playing on the left side of the center in the back, also on the right side. He also played a little bit of right back at the combine here. He’s one of the few defenders — if not the only defender — to get a goal. He had an assist when he played 45 minutes at right back. He’s a player that we like because he’s very comfortable on the ball, he’s very steady and was the main defender on the team that was the best defensive team in the country last year. He’s got to be doing something right.”

(And Babayele Sodade?)

Schmid: “Sodade is big body. He’s a big presence up front. He’s got good pace. Obviously for us, one of our concerns as we go into this season is the recovery of O’Brian White. … We got (Sammy) Ochoa, but Sodade is different. He’s a much bigger body than Sammy. I thought he showed well at the combine. He’s had a good career at UAB and he’s the kind of player who could be a surprise guy like (Sporting Kansas City forward) C.J. Sapong was last year.”

(How do you feel the team stands after making these two picks?)

Hanauer: “Clearly we were very comfortable with our team coming into the draft. By virtue of the fact that we were picking at 15 and 34, although it’s always a little more difficult at the draft, ultimately that’s kind of where you want to be because you’re winning a lot of games in the regular season. So it’s going to be a battle. Duran and Sodade will have to come in and work hard coming out of this draft. We have a very deep and strong team and we hope they prove to us that they belong on the roster and ultimately earn minutes and have an impact on the team. With Chris (Henderson) doing a great job going out and locking up Adam Johansson and Christian Sivebaek, with the signing of Michael Gspurning and some of the other deals that are possibly pending or getting close, we’re very, very comfortable that we’re going to have a very good team.”

(All of the true defenders on the roster — excluding Tetteh, who can play midfielder — are 26 years old or older. Was getting a little younger in the back a priority for the team?)

Henderson: “Yeah, I think it’s always good to have a balance with experience, with age. The more you can balance the team with those kinds of players — who can help younger players along, they can play next to guys that can help them mature — it’s good for the future of the club, as well. It’s always good to have a balance with experience.”

(Duran might not have been on the top of a lot of mock drafts. You’ve taken him before some Generation adidas guys. Did you find him to be underrated? Did his injury history play a part in that?)

Schmid: “For us, the thinking with Duran was really a situation where it was also addressing a need that we have as a team, a positional need. Even though we think there were certain players like an Ethan Finlay, who are very quality players offensively, (that was outweighed by) the ability to be able to pick up a central defender, who we think could play on the outside as well, a guy who was very composed on the ball. His injury situation is something we had checked into and we were confident that all those situations and all that was behind him. I just thought he was the most composed defender in the combine and also we watched him play a number of times with his Creighton team and we felt very good about the performances that he gave to that team. He’s a very steady player. He’s not a flashy guy. He’s not going to crush (guys with) huge tackles per se, but he’s a guy who takes care of the ball, who completes his passes, who is fast. He’s got good speed and quickness. He can deal with faster, quicker forwards in the league, as well, and he’s somebody who tends to not make many positional errors.”

(Were you surprised Sodade wasn’t picked earlier?)

Schmid: “Yeah, we thought somebody might take him a little bit earlier. We had a couple guys as we got to our pick at No. 34 that we still liked a little bit, so we had to decide between the two. Again, it really came down to a positional situation, as well. We don’t know how well O’Brian White is going to recover. Sodade was unique to this draft in that he’s a big-bodied forward. All the other guys — Townsend, Hoffman, Dwyer — were all smaller, quicker, more dynamic forwards in that regard, but not really a big back-to-the-goal presence and that’s something that Sodade can represent. He’s also got good pace and that’s something that O’Brian White gave us at the beginning of last year.”

(Was a big bodied forward missing last year?)

Schmid: “I mean obviously Sammy Ochoa came in at the end of the year and provided some of that for us, as well. Mike Fucito does that in his own way in that it’s not necessarily how tall you are; it’s how strong you play on the ball. Mike can be strong on the ball and play strong on the ball, as well. That’s important for us. But with Nate (Jaqua), we lost a guy who was also a physical presence up front. With Nate being gone and O’Brian’s injury, it gives us somebody who can assume that physical presence, and that’s what we need.”

(It seems like some offensive players slipped a bit in the draft. What did you make of the offensive players and did that contribute to you going with a defender with your first pick?)

Schmid: “We were really looking at our needs as much as anything. Obviously (Darren Mattocks) is a special talent, but we felt there was no way we were getting up to No. 1 or 2 to be able to pick him. There are certain guys like that. If we had gotten up to that level earlier in the round, where Silva got picked, or Garza was somebody that we liked. We looked at those possibilities and we talked about those possibilities with teams, but it wasn’t feasible without destroying our team to move up for those guys. At the end of the day when it came to our pick, we felt the truly quality offensive players that in our minds were more sure things were gone, and then it was important for us to address our needs. We had Duran as the top-rated defender in our minds, based on the guys we saw here, so it was a good situation for us.”

(How did Duran training with you last summer help you evaluate him?)

Schmid: “He came out and trained with us during the summer, as did some other guys as well — Finlay and some other guys did. So that gave us a chance to look at him and gauge his personality a little bit, which is important. He did not go to our combine in Vegas. He was not there, but we saw him (at the MLS combine) and we saw him at the Final Four. And he saw him in a couple games during the regular season. Kurt had seen him play a number of times. Obviously them training with us is sometimes helpful. I think Servando Carrasco worked out fairly well for us and he was a kid who trained with us the summer before his senior year, as well. It just gives you a little insight to what the kid’s personality is like, what his daily training habits are like. The other thing for Duran, too, and all the Creighton players in fact, those guys went through four years of college with three head coaches. They had three different head coaches and they had to adjust and adapt all the time. No matter which one of their three head coaches you talked to, the feedback and the information we got on Duran was constantly the same. And he displayed what they had told us.”

(Why the SuperDraft is separate from the Supplemental Draft? And what do you look forward to Tuesday with more picks coming?)

Hanauer: “The dividing it out, probably, as much as anything, is to make it so that it’s not a 12-hour draft, and also to let teams go back home and regroup a little bit. The reality is, a lot of the players that get picked in the next phase of the draft weren’t here, they’re a little bit more of a stretch and they’re players that are realistically going to have a much harder time making a roster. So (league officials) just try and provide some time for teams to get themselves organized for that part of it. I’m kind of a math and statistics guy, and when you’re picking in the supplemental part of the draft, to some degree it’s a numbers game, because they’re players that we probably haven’t seen as much as the top players. It’s players that you’re not sure how they’re going to react coming into a professional environment. It’s players who haven’t played at as high of a level, necessarily, maybe coming from smaller schools. So it’s a chance for us to bring three, four, five more players into camp. Sometimes there’s a diamond in the rough. Realistically, the second round of the supplemental draft is the same round in which we chose Mike Fucito, so there’s always a chance of that sort of pick. But it certainly gets harder the further down you go. Realistically, there’s a much lower likelihood that those players will ultimately makes our roster.”

(Were you surprised that there weren’t any trades involving 2012 picks?)

Hanauer: “There’s always a lot of talk and usually very little action. I think it’s just what happens when you get six or seven representatives from 19 teams jammed up in a hotel together for a week. They tend to spend a lot of time talking and, again, there’s not necessarily a whole lot of action. So we’re not really surprised that there weren’t loads of trades.”

(What did you make of no international players being drafted?)

Schmid: “It speaks to three things. One is there are still more rounds to go, so it doesn’t mean they’re over with at this stage. But the second thing it speaks to is overall more teams are doing a better job of scouting the college season. More of them have a better comfort level and higher comfort level with the American player now. They’re not just seeing them for three combine games. They’ve seen them maybe over two or three seasons. Maybe they’ve seen them play five or six times for their college team, so they look at that whole body of work. That gives a comfort level and they’re more serious about that player, as well. Then you have the situation where teams are only allowed eight foreign spots. You see people’s signings and you see our signings where we picked up a couple foreign players. A lot of other teams have done the same thing, even New England, which generally stayed away from that. So teams are saying, ‘Do we want to use a foreign spot on a young player that’s maybe not of the upper level like a guy who’s about to break through, like a Castillo or somebody like that? Or would we rather draft a college player who we think is fairly close and similar, and doesn’t cost us a foreign spot?’ I think that’s all there.”

* * *

Lastly, here’s Henderson’s roundup on


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