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January 25, 2012 at 2:22 PM

Schmid, Hanauer on getting a PDL affiliate

The big story of the day was Sounders FC announcing a partnership with Tacoma Tide FC to rebrand the local PDL team as the Sounders FC U-23s. Reporters got the chance to talk to coach Sigi Schmid and general manager Adrian Hanauer about the news, and here’s what they had to say:

* * *

SIGI SCHMID, head coach

(What are your thoughts on getting a PDL affiliate?) “I think that’s great. It’s important for our academy kids to be able to come back here in the summers and play, and continue to grow and develop. When you look a lot of the academy kids who went off last year and had good seasons — (Troy) Peterson at College of Charleston, Sean Okoli at Wake Forest, DeAndre (Yedlin) at Akron — so now these guys have a place to come back to. It also gives us an opportunity to bring in some other players. College players I think would like to come in to the Seattle area to play some of their summer soccer, and it becomes a logical progression. It bridges that gap from the under-18 academy team into the pro team and becomes a great enhancement for the development of players and addition to their college experience.”

ADRIAN HANAUER, general manager

(What do it mean for the Sounders to have this affiliation?) “I think we’ll certainly know more over time as it evolves, but the intent is to help to fill one of the gaps in development that we felt like we had at this time, which is most importantly for us to bring some of our academy graduates, who are now in university, back for the summer so we can observe them, if it makes sense maybe bring them in to train a day or two or longer with the first team, but to just keep tabs on those players. Secondarily, there’s certainly the potential that a player who doesn’t make our team here can stay in the area and continue to train and get games with a good PDL organization and, again, allow us to keep tabs on them.”

(And they’ll remain an amateur team?) “Yes.”

(So if someone you cut from training camp was interested in playing for the U-23s, they’d have to play for free?) “Yes. But there are lots of camps and things like that, so there are ways to get a guy a little bit of work and a few bucks in his pocket. But yeah, it’s an amateur team.”

(Do you view it as a low-risk/high-reward endeavor?) “Yeah, for sure.”

(Why Tacoma over other PDL clubs in the area?) “We certainly have a great relationship with the guys over at Crossfire and the PDL team they’re running. I think the evolution of this is that the new owners of the PDL team in Tacoma, we have a licensing agreement with them on the (Sounders Women), to run the women’s team as a Sounders team. They approached us with this idea, which made a lot of sense to work with them on both of these teams. I think there’s another benefit, which is that there’s the potential to continue to build interest in Pierce County and the Sounders in general. And I think that playing games down there with some hopefully future stars maybe brings some fans out in Pierce County to see the team.”

(How much the roster be dictated down there and how much will come from the Sounders?) “I think it’s still a work in progress. … Obviously (U-23s coach Darren Sawatzky) is an important part of our organization, running our youth development, and he’ll have a significant role in the roster makeup. But we’re not going to be dictatorial about who needs to be on the team and who doesn’t. We want a high-quality team that’s super-competitive, and I think the owners of the team also want the same and want to see players develop, as well. And the roster is also somewhat dictated by the rules that only allow a certain number of players over 23 on the roster.”

(Do you think more MLS teams will start to get PDL affiliations?) “I think it’s a market-by-market (issue). Teams will just sort of do as they see fit to continue development. I don’t know that this is the right answer. We’ll test it out for a couple of years, see whether it really is contributing to development, doing what we’re hoping it does. But I think U.S. soccer development is in the second inning … and I think it’s going to develop over time.”

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