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January 18, 2013 at 12:01 AM

Sounders GM, coach react to MLS SuperDraft

Seattle Sounders FC Logo.jpgThursday was a bit of an eventful day, with Sounders FC trading up in the MLS SuperDraft to pick Indiana star Eriq Zavaleta (post here) and later taking Brown left back Dylan Remick (post here).

Seattle general manager Adrian Hanauer and coach Sigi Schmid discussed the moves in a conference call afterward. Here is their reaction on draft-day matters (there was some other season preview/offseason activity matters that will be covered in a future post):

* * *

Coach Sigi Schmid

(How’d you feel about the draft and when did you start to think trading up for Eriq Zavaleta was an option?) “Obviously we’re pleased. We had Eriq in the top four on our list and Dylan Remick … as a left back he was No. 1 on our list, as well. So we were happy to be able to get him as late as we did. With Eriq, it was really a situation of trading up into the top five or six picks was just too costly, but then when the eighth pick was made and he still hadn’t been picked, we started looking around and saying, ‘Hey, maybe there’s a trade to be made here; maybe we don’t have to give up a ton to be able to move up those six spots,’ which we were able to do. And to be able to get Eriq then was definitely a nice surprise for us.”

(Where do you see Zavaleta playing?) “At the end of the day, maybe where he’s going to be able to achieve the maximum is going to be as a defender. But he certainly has played the last years as an attacking player, and he’s scored I think 28 goals in those two years … which is not bad. So I think he has that, as well. We’re going to go through training. We’re going to see what our needs are for this year. We’ll talk a little bit. We’ve already talked once with him when we interviewed him, but we’ll talk as training goes on and figure it out and try and do what’s best for him and his future. I’ve had good success (changing players’ positions). Chris Albright was a forward in college, moved him to outside back, and he ended up playing on the World Cup team. Eriq’s uncle, Greg Vanney, came to me at UCLA as an attacking midfielder and he went back to left back and he ended up playing for the national team and playing in Europe as a defender. So there’s some history for it. Eriq’s father played as central defender, and his father feels that’s his best position, as well. So we’ll see. We’ll see how it goes in training.”

(Do you think Zavaleta can contribute as a rookie?) “He’s a smart player. His positional play is very good. He understands it. We lost Jeff Parke obviously, so getting some defensive cover, some defensive help was important for us, and he has the intelligence that he can step on and play. Plus the other thing is having played so much as a forward, his passing and his ability on the ball is very good if he ends up playing defense. So he’s the kind of guy who can hit good passes out of the back, who finds people, who’s comfortable with the ball at his feet, and that’s always a plus, as well, for a defender. I think we’re going to have some good moments with him.”

(Where do you think you still need to improve/strengthen?) “Obviously we’re probably not done in terms of what we’re trying to do up front, with Montero and that loan. We’re looking at possibly still adding something there for sure. I think we have options sort of within the team right now, but we’re looking to do something that way. In the supplemental draft that comes up, we’re probably just looking to fill out depth at certain areas — a central midfielder would not hurt us in case we take an injury there or something, so we have enough depth there also. But overall I think our balance right now in terms of positions within our roster is pretty good.”

(How are you in regard to the salary cap after trading away allocation money?) “We are tight, and the only reason it worked is because he was a Generation Adidas player, so Zavaleta’s contract (is) going to go below the line, which means we move a minimum salary guy into our top 20. That’s the reason why it worked. We were going to have to add a defender or find a defender who was making a significant amount of money. We couldn’t do that because of the cap situation, but being able to find a Generation Adidas player who has no cap implications allowed us to give up a little bit of that cap money. We’re still working on some other things. We’ve got a couple things in there that might generate and have allocation money for us coming back the other way.”

(What can you tell us about Dylan Remick?) “We were definitely surprised because we had him rated as the best left back in the combine. We first noticed him at our combine in Vegas, so that gave us a little bit of a head-start on him, and we thought he was really good there. He was very solid, not the type of player that’s flashy or that will knock your socks off, but a player that just takes care of his job. And his athleticism I think was a plus, because not only can he play on the outside, but he can also play inside if need be. He can certainly get up and down the line. He likes to get forward. Brown is not known as an offensive powerhouse, so if you’re an outside back and you get seven assists, then you’re probably doing pretty good because you probably only scored 30 goals all year. He’s just good — good personality, good kid, good athlete, and a very good soccer player.”

(And does he have to finish school before he reports?) “No … he’s sorted everything away school-wise. I can’t remember now if he’s done or if he just has to take two online classes, but I know he’s done with his major, so him being able to join us right away is not an issue.”

GM Adrian Hanauer

(Can you describe where you stand with the salary cap after trading away allocation money to trade up and draft Eriq Zavaleta?) “It’s tighter. Anytime you give up allocation money, you sort of compromise your ability to buy down salaries. To Sigi’s point, it allows us to have a quality young center back below the line. We felt as though Eriq was a player that we coveted enough that it was worth maybe sacrificing a tiny bit somewhere else, if it came down to it, by shipping off the allocation money. To Sigi’s point, we are working on some other potential transactions that ultimately could bring some more allocation money in. We wouldn’t have done if we thought it was really, really going to affect the ultimate finished product of our roster, but at the same time I’d be lying if I said every time you ship off allocation money it doesn’t make things slightly more complicated and challenging because you simply don’t have that luxury of a bank of money to pay down salaries.”

(What can you tell us about Dylan Remick?) “We don’t interview every single kid in the combine, but we interview a lot of kids and Dylan was great in that one-on-one interview. We think we’ve got a kid of fantastic mentality. You have to have strong mentalities to run some of events he ran in high school, and that track background we think probably turns him into a very good athlete for us and a kid that will have a strong mentality, as well.”

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