Sounders FC general manager Adrian Hanauer spoke to reporters after Monday’s press conference and here is a full transcript.
A transcript from the actual press conference is in the works, but you can watch that here.
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(Does it feel like the gap was closed with the Galaxy when it comes to weaponry? It was mentioned last year in the playoff that they had Beckham, Donovan, Keane — all national team captains.) “I think on paper you would have to say that that is the case. Obviously Clint, Oba, Mauro, Shalrie, we have Eddie, we definitely have some pretty good weaponry at this point — your word — and the idea was that we want to win championships, and we don’t like getting beat, by the Galaxy or anybody, and so hopefully this helps us get over the hump.”
(Was there almost surprise when it actually came through?) “Yeah. Surprise and there were some anxious moments to some degree in that, again, I’m kind of a worrier. Maybe I learned that from Gary Wright, but once I saw the tweets that he was at Heathrow, I’m like (exhale), OK, step one, he made it to the airport in London. Then he made it to San Francisco. It’s like all right, OK, we’re on the right track so far. Then I actually picked him up at the airport in Seattle. We got that finalized. Then there was a little bit of a funny scene at my house on Friday night. He hadn’t actually signed the contract, and we just kept getting sidetracked with conversation. Not anything controversial, just hanging out. I was literally pushing them up the stairs to go into my office to sign the documents and Joe got there, and he hadn’t been able to say hello to Clint and Lyle yet. I said, ‘Look Joe, I know you want to chat in the hallway here, but these guys are going upstairs right now to sign the contract. They’ll be back down in 20 minutes.’ So once that was done, I felt, OK, this actually is going to happen.”
(Did playing on turf ever come up as a hiccup?) “No, no. I think, again, you’re not going to find a player in the world probably who wouldn’t prefer grass to turf. And we have plenty of players, who we try to manage. There’s no data that shows a greater injury likelihood, but guys sometimes complain of a little more soreness, and so we train on grass basically every day and we have our games on turf.”
(Ultimately how big was that World Cup qualifier as a recruiting tool?) “Yeah, probably a good question for Clint, but it seems to have paid dividends. And if it had a role in bringing Clint to Seattle, I would suggest that maybe we want to do national team games here as often as possible.”
(Will you be opening up more seats beyond the ones already planned?) “We’ll take it day by day, kind of see and get through this initial period and go into a deep dive with the business group and figure out the best way to monetize this, but because the reality is that generating some additional revenue would be good to defray some of the costs. But we’re a little too close to know exactly how we’ll do it.”
(What made him to target from a soccer perspective?) “Again, I think pure soccer I would defer to maybe Henderson and Sigi a little bit, but he has a combination of qualities that led Fulham to buy him and Tottenham to buy him after that and us to buy him a few days ago. Clearly he’s a creative player, he can score goals, he can create goals, but he’s a worker also, a leader, a winner, a fighter, he’s got some bite to his game — all qualities to wrap up into a nice, tidy package for what we think will be a great addition to an already good team. And then there’s the off-the-field stuff. He’s a great guy. He really is. He’s a good guy. He’s a family guy. Quite frankly, if I’m talking to players or agents, if they’re single and looking for a certain lifestyle, sometimes I shy away from trying to convince them that Seattle is the place to be. Sometimes New York, L.A., Chicago, maybe those are bigger profile cities. But I believe that if you’re going to raise a family, there’s no better place in the world than Seattle. So there was that. There is, again, just the way he carries himself and just being really approachable with fans. I know he’ll connect with the community and be a great ambassador for our team.”
(With the money involved here, could this be profitable in any way?) “You never know what’s going to happen with revenue. We’re not counting on this being a profitable move. This is for soccer. This is to win a championship, raise the profile domestically, globally, and pay our fans back for their support. I’m a big believer — Joe and Peter are, as well — that if you do good things as a business, the financial rewards will come down the line, so this feels like we’re doing the right things by our customers, our fans.”
(How important from league standpoint for things like TV revenues?) “Yeah, that’s the other piece, is that when Joe and I got involved in the franchise, we for sure were focused on the profile of Seattle and building a great franchise here, but we also wanted to help develop the game nationally, and Clint is the kind of player who raises the profile, and moves the needle and gets people excited and gets a room full of media people like we had today, and gets our fans’ hair on the back of their necks to stand up like Saturday night, and hopefully entertains people on the field.”
(Are many more types of players that MLS can realistically grab?) “Realistically, depends on your interpretation of realistically, but anybody can be had for the right amount of money. Is there a long list of guys? No, but slow and steady wins the race, and as a league we will continue to become a better league on multiple fronts, all the way from our under-14 teams and that development cycle, to guys like DeAndre, to bringing in young foreign players, to the university players that come through the draft, senior internationals and bringing backs stars, whether they’re American or internationals back to the league.”
(On MLS transparency…) “I’m not sure it’s really about protecting (our league) from foreign interest. We have a model called the single entity and we have a partnership of owners, and our goal is to improve the league and the profile of Major League Soccer in this country and globally and our profile vis a vis the rest of the world. We’ve created a rules structure that we think best allows our league to grow in a rational way. Again, you can ask me about a specific rule, but we have a decent level of transparency in some areas. In others, maybe we have less transparency. But we’re just trying to build the game and do what we need to do to run a healthy enterprise.”
(If you wouldn’t have been able to sign Dempsey, do you think you still would’ve added a high-profile DP?) “We were for sure looking at other players, but again, we’re always looking. We’re always looking for players.”
(Any chance for other moves with three more days until the transfer window closes?) “Enough excitement for one transfer window? You know, never say never, but we don’t have anything that’s far down the line that is imminent.”