Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid was quite open on Sunday, when he said he felt U.S. Soccer was rooting against Seattle in the U.S. Open Cup and implied the federation might be working against the Sounders through a blind draw in the tournament’s early rounds.
Those thoughts were noticed by U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati, who in a response to Soccer By Ives called Schmid’s comments “completely inappropriate and frankly quite offensive.” Gulati described any notion of a conspiracy as “nonsense.”
Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer was asked Monday if Schmid’s words spoke for the franchise.
“No,” Hanauer said. “Sigi has a long background in this league, with U.S. Soccer. I also think Sigi’s job is to get wins, motivate the team, push our league, push U.S. Soccer. I know Sigi well enough to know that some of what he says is a little bit of jab, some of it’s a little tongue-in-cheek, some of it is how he feels, but just because he says something doesn’t mean that he believes 100 percent, for instance, the draw is rigged. The area where I support him absolutely, 100 percent, is that more transparency in the whole process eliminates anyone questioning it. It’s not the first time a draw for a tournament in any sport where there are, in effect, conspiracy theories about that. I’m just a big believer in transparency and that eliminates any uncertainty in these types of cases.”
Hanauer said he spoke Monday morning with D.C. United CEO and president Kevin Payne, who Schmid included in his comments Sunday, noting D.C. gets a lot of Open Cup home games and that Payne is on the U.S. Soccer executive committee.
Hanauer called Payne “a good friend, and he considers Sigi a good friend, and he knows Sigi extremely well. To me, I don’t want to say much ado about nothing, but much ado about not very much, and we move on.”
So did Hanauer think losing so many 50-50 bids was odd?
“Maybe I’m an optimist, maybe I’m naive, sometimes things happen by chance that don’t seem like they ought to,” he said. “I’m also a big math and science guy, too, so when things don’t seem like they ought to mathematically, it certainly always makes me ponder. But one of (assistant coach) Brian Schmetzer‘s favorite sayings is ‘Let’s control the controllables.’ All we can do is play games where they tell us to at the time they tell us to and try to go out there and win the games.”
Hanauer was also asked if he could see the Sounders purchasing hosting rights from either San Jose (MLS) or Minnesota (NASL) in the Open Cup quarterfinals, provided they beat Cal FC on Tuesday.
“We haven’t dug in on that very much at this point,” he said. “We’re pretty focused on Cal FC tomorrow — don’t want to overlook them. But I’m sure it’s something that we will at least have conversations about internally, and then if internally we decide it’s something we want to pursue we’ll, I guess, have conversations externally.”