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December 17, 2013 at 2:50 PM

GM Adrian Hanauer on the EJ trade, a busy offseason, Dempsey going on loan, and more

hanauer mugSounders FC general manager Adrian Hanauer held about a 20-minute conference call with reporters Tuesday, mainly geared around the trade of Eddie Johnson and a whirlwind offseason that has shaken up on the roster. A variety of issues came up, and here is a full transcript:

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(On the Eddie Johnson trade…) “I can tell you that it was a large amount allocation money, which will help us to make some of the roster moves that either we have already made and will continue to make in the not-too-distant future. This was, for the most part, one of those salary-cap-related transactions where it’s just a tough system to live in with lots of good players who want to make lots of money. We just thought that this was the best solution for us to manage the roster the way we need to manage it, and hopefully get us in a position to compete for a championship in 2014.”

(On if any off-the-field issues played into the move…) “It was mostly focused on salary cap. It was certainly reported, and there were some minor incidents, but minor incidents happen on every team with many players. A lot of times it doesn’t get reported. I know the speculation is going to be that there were these other massive issues, but really when it came down to it, this was about getting our team balanced in a way from back to front that gives us the best chance of winning. Eddie obviously wanted to make more money, which sort of started this process down the path that it’s gone. We’re happy for Eddie, as well. I won’t comment on whatever contractual issues are going on with him, but hopefully he ends up in a better spot for him, and obviously we think this is a good move for us to get our overall roster in a better position, as well.”

(On the thinking behind a wild offseason that has already seen so many moves…) “A lot of it has been driven by salary-cap issues and the cap challenges and the lack of allocation money to have flexibility with the roster. We also have wanted to and will continue to try to get stronger in different parts of the field and maybe more balanced. I guess I probably should’ve started with the transactions that obviously were pretty big ones for us in locking up Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso and getting a deal done with (Leo) Gonzalez. So we had some priorities kind of coming into the offseason, and we checked those off, and now trying to round out the roster. We certainly have, I would say, likely more moves ahead of us. And then transitioning into some of what (majority owner Joe Roth) and I addressed at the end-of-year business meeting, which is a continued focus on the type of soccer, the type of character we want in the locker room and on the field. We think we’ve added to that so far with some of our transactions, and I think as future transactions transpire, it will probably be more of the same.”

(On if there was a focus on getting moves done early after last season’s unsettled roster at the start or if it’s just coincidence…) “I don’t think it’s a coincidence. We went into this the day after the Portland series knowing that there would be some pretty big moves that would probably come about. We’re obviously going to try to be as set as possible on the first day of training camp — hopefully we’ve learned our lesson a little bit — but no team is ever 100-percent settled come Jan. 20, or whenever we start. But we’re going to try to be more settled.”

(On how much the deal was negotiated by the league office and how that all transpired…) “The league is involved effectively in approving every transaction, every trade within the league and obviously in that light, they were (involved in this one), as well. But this was Eddie for allocation money. Again, any questions as well as the league’s actual involvement or what they do at the league level is probably a better question for the league.”

(On the defensive changes, bringing in Chad Marshall and Stefan Frei…) “Obviously, first, it was very difficult to see Michael Gspurning leave. We really like Michael as a goalkeeper and as a person, great guy on and off the field, but again, cap constraints sort of made a transaction necessary. Stefan is a goalkeeper who we’ve followed since he came out of Cal, liked very much. Obviously he’s had some injury challenges the last couple of years, and then Joe Bendik came in and did a fantastic job for Toronto. But we think we’ve got a very good young goalkeeper who’s going to continue to improve, and it improved our cap situation dramatically. We’re closing in on maybe being able to announce something with Marcus here, so Marcus will be back. We obviously retained Josh Ford, so we think we’re set well at the goalkeeper position. Chad was bringing in a proven former MLS Defender of the Year, dominating, poised, good locker-room guy, another high-quality defender into the group. That was one of our offseason priorities, to continue to upgrade ourselves defensively, specifically at center back, and we think Chad will have done that for us.”

(On looking at last year and thinking a shakeup was necessary…) “Yeah, I think it’s safe to say that. I mean it’s been five years. Obviously a lot of success — maybe not the pinnacle of success in our league — but this last year was inconsistent, so I guess we wanted to shake that up and try and maybe create a scenario where we have more consistency. And as I mentioned before, it wasn’t the best locker room we’ve had. Again, the locker room thing is a combination of a lot of factors, but it was something that we considered, and some of these moves are meant to continue to consolidate and bring the group together so that we can do those things that Joe mentioned, which is be a super-together team that fights, scratches and claws for each other and gives our fans the belief that we’re out there working as hard for them and they are for us — a team that they’re really proud of.”

(On if the Johnson trade was to clear room for Clint Dempsey up front to get him better positioned for a big year in 2014 and if there’s any update on a potential offseason loan…) “I hesitate to dive too deep into the soccer piece. Really, that’s a better question for Sigi. I guess I can make a few comments about that. For sure Clint had a few niggling injuries that I know were really frustrating for him. I know he didn’t have a lot of production, but I actually thought he was really starting to integrate there toward the end and playing really good soccer. He probably could have had three or four assists. To your point, they didn’t go in the goal, but he certainly put himself in position to have three, four, five goals. We’re really, really excited to get Clint and have him for the full year. How that relates to Eddie, I’d probably let Sigi (address it). I know he’s not on the call and that’s not going to help you at this minute. And Clint did have something in his contract that would allow him to go on loan for the first couple of months here. Obviously the rumors are pretty rampant, and I think it’s likely, but until it’s done, we won’t report it as done. But I do think it’s likely.”

(On parting with well-liked guys like Steve Zakuani and Mauro Rosales…) “Both players we’re very sorry to see go. Again, I get very attached to players; they’re part of family, obviously Steve from Day 1 and Mauro for three years, so from that standpoint, it’s really difficult. Mauro, we weren’t going to be able to come up with the contract that he was looking for. I’m actually really happy for Mauro because I think that Chivas can be a great opportunity for him to be a real leader for them, have a huge impact on that franchise, and he was able to be in Los Angeles, which was a city that he was interested in living in. So as difficult as it was to lose Mauro, I’m happy for the way it transpired, and obviously we anxious in trying to get Tristan Bowen signed and then that second allocation ranking from Chivas provides us with the opportunity, perhaps, to bring another national team player back, which is always a risk but could end up being extremely valuable. Steve, again, disappointed to see him leave. Obviously the last couple of years have been rough with injuries, and it’s certainly difficult to see him go to our rival to the south, but clearly Steve has a very good relationship with (coach Caleb Porter) and some of the players on that team. And again, same issue, we weren’t prepared to take the cap hit that was going to be required with Steve, so we knew there was a risk that he was going to end up somewhere else.”

(On other roster issues that need to be addressed and if there’s enough allocation money to spend on potentially some big additions…) “We need to dot the i’s and cross t’s on Kenny Cooper and Tristan Bowen. That’s maybe step one. We do have pretty good flexibility now, so I would count on one or two more pretty major signings, potentially. They could be anywhere on the field. I think it’s far to say with Mauro and Steve going that width in the midfield is potentially an area that we’d be looking at. We could potentially still be interested in getting better defensively, another spot in the midfield or maybe adding another forward. I would say we’re still pretty far from the finished product.”

| More in Sounders FC, Stop and chats

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