Reporters got a chance to catch up Adrian Hanauer, Sounders FC’s general manager and part owner, after practice Wednesday to discuss a few recent topics. The wind was blowing into my voice recorder, so instead of a full transcript I’ll break it down by topic with select quotes.
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Why Chelsea? “Chelsea is one of the great teams in the world, which is something we’re really focused on,” said Hanauer. “We have a great relationship with the organization. We think that they have an exciting team, and they could potentially be (UEFA) Champions League champions.”
Do you understand why some fans might be underwhelmed at their return? “Sure, I could certainly see that someone could come to that conclusion,” Hanauer said. “As I’ve said on numerous occasions, these games are complicated and we wanted to make sure that we brought one of the top teams. We had an opportunity to snag Chelsea and jumped at it.” Hanauer said you could also look at it as a second chance against the Blues, who beat the Sounders 2-0 here in 2009.
So will you change team strategy from last year’s debacle? Hanauer said the staff has talked about being more competitive in the game. There will still be minutes to manage, and the staff still views it as an opportunity for young players to get a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but the game will be handled differently. Final game-day decisions will be up to coach Sigi Schmid, but Hanauer said they want to win the game and “certainly don’t want to repeat a 7-0 result.”
Any update on away-fan ticket allocation for Cascadia games now that we know the whole stadium will be open? Hanauer said 1,500 tickets will be reserved for Timbers and Whitecaps fans in their respective visits to CenturyLink Field. Ultimately. it’s about the same total of tickets the Sounders fans will get in road Cascadia games. Seattle gets 800 tickets for traveling fans in each of its two road games in Portland and its two in Vancouver.
Do you know much about the prices of those allocated tickets for Seattle fans going to Portland? “I don’t think they’re raising prices,” Hanauer said. “I assume they’re the same prices that someone would have to pay if they were a Portland Timbers fan. But there was a never a discussion of having equal prices. The prices should be what the prices are. I’m hoping that neither team is gouging the other team’s fans to try and extract extra dollars out of it.”
What’s the thought process behind another multi-game pack? “I think we wanted to put together an extremely attractive package,” Hanauer said. The success of last year’s three-game pack showed how successful they can be. There were about 45,000 fans at the New York Red Bulls game and the stadium was full for the San Jose and Manchester United games. “The idea is to do the same thing this year and get 50,000-plus for all of those games, and expose some new fans to the team, and give those who maybe can’t afford a season ticket another product to be able to buy. The atmosphere in the stadium with 50-, 55-, 60,000 fans is unbelievable and it gives us just that little bit of additional edge, hopefully, in terms of home-field advantage.”
And the surface for the friendly hasn’t been determined yet? “It’s an ongoing conversation,” said Hanauer, “but in those clubs there are a lot of voices and the manager, the head coach, has a very loud voice.” Roberto Di Matteo is the interim manager for now — a “caretaker” as they say — but it’s no guarantee he’ll keep the job full-time. A final decision on the turf won’t likely be made until the Blues have a permanent manager.
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Anything stand out to you?