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July 10, 2013 at 10:53 AM

Sounders sporting director Chris Henderson on the transfer window and more

henderson mug 2012Sounders FC sporting director Chris Henderson spoke to reporters about a variety of topics after Tuesday’s practice. Topics included Fredy Montero, Mario Martinez, the summer transfer window, the possibility of signing a DP, retention allocation funds, scouting the Gold Cup and more.

Here is a full transcript:

*     *     *

(What is it like seeing Fredy Montero out here?) “It’s great. It’s great to have former players come back, and Fredy was such an important part of the club. We always welcome him back. He looks fit. He looks really fit.”

(Do you know where his transfer stands at this point?) “I don’t know where it’s at at this point, but I know he’s optimistic and feeling ready. But I don’t know exactly where it’s at.”

(How much are the Sounders involved in this move?) “I don’t know to what extent. … It’s probably a question for (GM Adrian Hanauer), but I think there’s been some involvement for sure.”

(What does this mean for you as someone who scouted Montero at a young age and helped bring him to Seattle?) “Yeah, from early of 2008 we went down to Colombia so many times and met with him and watched him. It’s good that we all have a really good relationship. It’s good when you can see players have a chance to kind of fulfill their dreams.”

(He would’ve been a Youth DP if those rules were in place. How much does that rule help now?) “It opens up a lot of doors for us. I think it really helps our cap when you can go after a Youth DP and there’s less hit on the books for us. I think you’ve seen it around the league, and it’s a type of player we look for also — the full DPs and the youth DPs — and you kind of weigh that into it. But you want to make sure if you go after a guy he can really help the team immediately and have an impact.”

(How are things going with the transfer window open?) “It’s been like every window that opens: It’s really busy and the agents are pumping players your way. We have some guys that we’re looking at. We have some cash available to look for players, but we’re still pursuing the search and (being) really active. We’ll see how it plays out.”

(Do you have the flexibility to sign a DP?) “We have some flexibility, not a bunch at the moment. In the scouting department we kind of scout a really broad range, but really aggressive. We have to see whether it’s able to fit in our cap and if we’d have to make moves or we’d have to figure out what works for us at the moment.”

(What can you tell us about retention allocation funds?) “It’s all new for the teams in the league and how to use that retention allocation, and there are certain players you can use that on — and obviously the league approves everything. So that’s something we look at also: where we’re at in our retention, where other clubs are, too.”

(Have the Sounders used these funds?) “I don’t want to comment on that.”

(Do you think the Montero loan worked for both parties?) “For Fredy the experience of trying something else… I think he had great success here with the Sounders, so for him to be able to try it in Europe or try it in South America again to see where he’s at I think was great for him. As I said, he was very important for us in our success in getting to the playoffs every year and winning Open Cups, so I think we’re both happy where we’re at. I think he has great feelings toward the club. You never know in the future to see Fredy back in a Sounders jersey would be great for everyone.”

(Is Mario Martinez officially gone?) “That’s another one, too, that’s still up in the air. To say it’s closed: Nothing is closed until it’s completed and signed and things like that. So, I think it’s still open with him.”

(Do you think Montero would still have been able to make this move if he stayed with the Sounders?) “For players moving to Europe, I don’t think it changes at this point now. At least with my experience over there, what they think of MLS in Europe right now, I think every year it’s getting better, and I think the quality of the players coming here is opening people’s eyes. I don’t think it would’ve changed if he had stayed in MLS or gone to Colombia. I think he would’ve had a chance to go.”

(Do the Gold Cup games being close help scouting?) “I think it does. It helps us for sure in our scouting. We save money in our budget, which helps us. But it’s always good. Everyone’s filling up their discovery lists when they see a good player, and it’s a race to get the names on there. But for us, we love having as many games up here as possible, and it’s real easy to go see the games. Obviously this week in Portland and Seattle we can see four games … and it’s a lot of players that we can see pretty easily.”

(Is it nice being able to scout in groups instead of individually?) “Yeah, I always love when coaches can scout because you get a different perspective. So sharing the ideas, seeing a player with more than one (set of eyes) always helps. You can bounce things off each other and get different opinions. I think we’ve made a lot of decisions as a committee in the past, and we get agreement on the whole group, and I think it helps us make better decisions.”

(What is the balance like of trying to make a big addition in the summer transfer window but also trying to find the right fit?) “It’s hard. When you’re scouting, it’s hard to know how a guy is going to come here and adjust. Some of them work. Some of them haven’t. You just have to take that chance and do as much in the background as possible — a lot of phones calls, calling people about the character of the player. We can obviously see him live and do the video, but I think a little bit hit or miss whether the guy’s going to stay. But at least the quality we hope will make a difference for us to hopefully win a championship, and that’s the ultimate goal is winning an MLS Cup. So you want to get a guy who can make the difference, and you also want to look at the salary cap and you want to look at long term of the club, so there’s a lot to balance in bringing players in.”

(How are summer signings different than preseason signings?) “There are a lot more options than in the winter, so many times you’re getting a higher quality player. It’s an easier transition; a lot of them are in their offseason. If you’re getting a guy in the winter, you may be getting a guy midseason, you may be getting a guy who’s not playing, it’s just a different type of player you’re getting in the winter. We’re in the middle of our season … so there’s an adjustment either way. You get a guy in the winter, he goes through preseason, it’s easier for him to adapt.”

(How do you feel this club has done in midseason signings? You were able to turn the 2010 season around at the midway point but both big signings from last season aren’t here anymore.) “I think obviously Mario scored the big goal against Salt Lake, so I think if you look at that, we moved on further than the club has moved on in the playoffs. Like I said, you never know how they’re going to play out. Sometimes in the window you make it and it makes the difference, at least to push you on and get you into the playoffs, but each year I think we’re probably right in with most other teams in the league. It’s just time will tell with each of those. Last year our guys we brought in aren’t with us any more, the two, but I think we’ve had success in the past and guys who have helped us be successful.”

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