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April 12, 2013 at 12:20 PM

GM Adrian Hanauer on summer friendlies, a slow start, competing in CCL and more

A few reporters got a chance to catch up with Sounders FC general manager Adrian Hanauer on Friday — and I’ll have more from the interview throughout the day — but he was asked where things stand in regards to a summer friendly. This comes after details of a four-game ticket package were announced Thursday for all regular-season games.

“I think we’re headed towards not doing a friendly this summer,” Hanauer said. “Again, I’m not going to give you 100 percent, but that I think is the likely outcome. We’re happy with having Gold Cup, the U.S. qualifier, and a lot of our fans have said we’d rather have our team focus on league play — and even if we brought a big team, they’d rather see that big team play against some other team from another country — and not muck up our summer with another fixture. So at least this summer, I think that’s where we’re headed. … We’ll assume it goes down that way and we’ll figure out next year.”

I asked Hanauer if the plan was to have the home leg of the CONCACAF Champions League finals included in the package, but he said that wasn’t the case. The timing after CCL elimination was separate and unrelated.

More from Hanauer after the jump on the team knowing about Obafemi Martins‘ tendon issue (but it being something the team thinks it can manage), the team’s slow start, CCL prospects and more.

*     *     *

(On start of season…) “Look, it’s reality. I thought we actually played extremely well through CCL. I was very happy with the team. Again, you can call it excuses, but there’s just a difference in the level, still, between top Mexican teams and top MLS teams. When Real Madrid plays 15 other teams in La Liga, you can see the difference between two, three, four, five times the salaries. Given that, I was extremely proud of our performance through the Champions League. As for the beginning of the (MLS) season, obviously poor results. I don’t think we’ve played as bad as a one-point-in-four-games team, but it is what it is, and we need to start collecting points on Saturday.”

(On the idea of the salary difference between MLS and Mexico not being an issue…) “It is. I’ve had conversations with a few owners of Mexican teams. I know what they spend. I know what we spend. Not only is it the difference in overall salary, but it’s the balance. If the L.A. Galaxy are spending $10 million a year, most of it is in three players. Whereas the Mexican roster is spread, it’s $20 million spread over 20 players, and you can have quality, but you need quality across every position to be as consistently sound technically, tactically, physically as the teams are in Mexico. I do think we’re catching up, but if I’m frank, we’re not there yet. Anyone who thinks it’s because we’re trying hard enough or because we get unlucky or because the refereeing isn’t good enough is fooling themselves. We can say we’re as good as they are, but in my humble opinion, we’re not. It’s just the reality, but we’re catching up. If we keep doing the things we’re doing … as our homegrown systems get more in place, more developed, and as we spend more on players, bring more quality players in, we will catch up and pass Mexico.”

(On being out of CCL and if there’s any positive to every now and then having a summer that doesn’t involve extra games and international travel…) “Look, I don’t take a positive from it. I like being in Champions League. But you are right, the reality — again, this is one of those realities — is putting tens of thousands of extra miles and more games on players has an effect. It’s just a reality. Now we can just focus on league. It gives us a chance to focus on league going into next year, at least knowing the earliest we can be back is next August. We’ve got a year to focus on league play and collect as many points as possible.”

(On how CCL has helped the team over the years…) “I think it’s helped the team mature and lose maybe some naivety, because playing in those games is difficult. It’s difficult conditions, difficult mentally. To be able to beat Tigres, to be able to go down to Santos and tie a team like that, I think there will be positives that comes out of it. But we need to start showing it on Saturday.”

(On if the team knew about Martins’ leg tendon issue…) “Yeah, but we assume that it’s something we can manage over time. It’s unfortunate, the timing of it. I think in retrospect — I think Sigi said it maybe that game — (playing Martins at Real Salt Lake), so quickly after joining us, maybe that was a mistake. But he’s anxious to prove himself and wants to be out there. Certainly we want him out there, as well. So now I guess we have to take a step back, make sure that we get him right, and now it’s a long season.”


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