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November 19, 2012 at 1:23 PM

Chatting with GM Adrian Hanauer about Sunday’s game, referees, and looking to 2013

hanauer mug.jpgReporters had a chance to chat with Adrian Hanauer, Sounders FC general manager and part owner, after Sunday’s playoff game. Here is the transcript of that conversation:

* * *

(Thoughts on the season?) “I think I’d echo a lot of what Sigi said. We took some positive steps this year, from Open Cup, where we make it to another final and get nipped on penalties, a Cascadia Cup that doesn’t go our way on the final day, (advanced to) CONCACAF quarterfinals handily, very well managed throughout that process, and we obviously took another step in the playoffs. I feel like we’re becoming more mature as an organization and as a team, but obviously tonight’s disappointing and we’ll spend the next couple of days doing a bit of an autopsy and figure out what we do from there.”

(Will it be hard to keep this group together?) “It depends what you call this group. We certainly have the salary cap issue, but we’ve managed our cap pretty well. As I’ve said and as happens every year, it will not be the exact same group next year — and soccer’s just like that. Players get opportunities, the club gets opportunities and obviously over the couple three months we’ll get that all squared away.”

(Do you have a sense it will be more tinkering than major changes?) “We said before the playoffs started that if we win a championship, we’re still going to look holistically at where we’re at and try to get better next year and try to put together a team that can win a championship. Certainly knowing that we’re not playing Champions League next year in the qualifying stage takes four games out of the equation, which maybe allows you to tinker with the depth a little bit and say, ‘OK, maybe that balance shifts a little bit more to the 11, 12, 13, 14 guys that are going to get more and more minutes,’ but that’s really subtle, and it’s based on what opportunities arise. It’s hard to just snap your fingers and say all of a sudden now I’m trying to go from 18-deep to 14-deep. The right deals have to fall into place. Again, Sigi said it: We were a little bit of discipline from still being playing or quite frankly having won this series because at 2-0 we can close up shop. But a 3-0 loss in L.A., again, just too deep a hole.”

(Did you see the Eddie Johnson offside call?) “I didn’t. Everybody has told me it was onside. To me, that’s a problem. Look, I’m involved at the league level, and I’m as culpable as anyone and as involved as anyone in continuing to improve the refereeing. But key decisions like that change games. The non-call in L.A. changed that game completely and an erroneous offside call here changes the game completely. The penalty changes the game completely. I know the thing that’s frustrating for players and coaches is they lose their jobs when they make mistakes and don’t win championships or don’t convert, and again, I know that’s been the frustrating thing for coaches and players is there doesn’t seem to be any significant consequences to making game-changing decisions that aren’t right.”

(Majority owner Joe Roth had some strong words about the officiating [Ed note: Expletives were involved]…) “Those are Joe’s words. You know look, I’m disappointed. I think a couple of big calls go against us, and if they hadn’t, the game is different. At the same time, I’m on the competition committee and all I want to do is make it better so I don’t have to live with this on as regular a basis. Look, it’s a tough job and they are going to make mistakes, no matter what, until maybe we implement a little bit of instant replay or video review. But again, theoretically, those bad decisions balance out. Didn’t feel like it this season for us, but I’m sure there are a lot of teams who feels it wasn’t balanced.”

(Do you immediately switch to offseason mode now?) “I wouldn’t say ‘offseason mode,’ but it’s continual evolution and a continual process. It’s not like tomorrow morning, we go, ‘Oh wow, the season is over! We forgot! Now we need to get to work.’ We’ve been looking at players, looking at contracts, looking at where we go next year. Again, whether we were eliminated tonight or won a championship, it was still going to be that evolutionary process.”

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