One Less Mystery

For months, inquiring minds have wanted to know who’s next to wear the Rave. Well, before the turkey goes into the oven at Grandma’s house, Seattle will have selected its 10 new players in the MLS Expansion Draft. Soon after that comes the list of Seattle-bound celebrities modeling for the Sounders FC Kit Fashion Show on Dec. 4.Shrouds are about to be lifted on some of the mysteries surrounding Sounders FC. Namely, who will wear the green, both sooner and later.

For months, inquiring minds have wanted to know who’s next to wear the Rave. Well, before the turkey goes into the oven at Grandma’s house, Seattle will have selected its 10 new players in the MLS Expansion Draft. Soon after that comes the list of Seattle-bound celebrities modeling for the Sounders FC Kit Fashion Show on Dec. 4.

Ah, but before these secrets are exposed for all to see, there’s a few more days and nights of secrecy and deliberation, at least on the team front.

After attending Sunday’s MLS Cup in Southern California, general manager Adrian Hanauer and technical director Chris Henderson are hunkering down in the Bay Area. There, at the headquarters of Match Analysis, they will dissect video and make their final determination of which players to take during Wednesday’s 10-round draft.

“Match Analysis has the database of video and statistical analysis that most MLS teams use,” says Hanauer. “Ten percent of that data is available online, but the other 90 percent can be accessed by drilling down at their headquarters.

“They offered to host us for two days,” he adds. “We’ve done a ton of homework leading up, but this enables us to fine tune projections against what players were actually protected, double- and triple-checking and hopefully making good decisions.”

Hanauer and Henderson are big believers in using technology, but not at the expense of the tried and trusted form of research, such as checking references and getting to know an individual’s story outside of the lines. It goes way beyond a gut-level hunch.

“We may look at a certain guy and find that his character and his passion and his drive and his work ethic will make him improve as a player faster than someone else,” Hanauer says. “We’re not going off of gut; I would call that due diligence and information. Some things are not quantifiable.”

When December comes, expect the roster to grow further.

Seattle and the other 14 MLS teams submit their Discovery Player lists from which more will be signed, including those players coming from the USL Sounders of this past season.

Beat the Rush
Want to do some early holiday shopping and support a great cause at the same time? The Sounders FC Kit Fashion Show is tailor-made.

The fashion show serves both as the unveiling of the gear Seattle will wear on and off the field, and proceeds go toward the Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Institute and the Quest for the Cure Guild.

The Sounders FC Fashion Show is Dec. 4 at the WaMu Theater at Qwest Field Event Center. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Kevin Calabro will call the action. There’s live music, light appetizers and signature drinks for the event.

There will be a silent auction of some limited edition items and, following the runway portion of the program, guests will be the world’s first to get a crack at purchasing the Sounders FC kit and other adidas Sounders FC apparel.

The morning following the fashion show, the kit goes on sale exclusively in Seattle at the Qwest Field Pro Shop and SoundersFC.com.

Beat the rush, see the stars and wear your Rave to work or school before anyone else. Get into the spirit before the rest by punching your ticket to the fashion show.

Whodda Thunk It?
If this year’s match-up in MLS Cup is any indication, maybe it’s OK to dream of Sounders FC reaching for some silverware in Season One.

After all, back in March nobody picked New York or Columbus for a place in the final. True, the crack panel of experts for SoundersFC.com did peg the Red Bulls to win the East (they took fifth), but c’mon. Since mid-summer the consensus favorites have been Chicago and Houston, the two-time defending champ.

Instead, this cup will be contested by a pair of outsiders, who played far fewer matches than the Dynamo and, thus, came down the stretch with relatively fresh legs. That helps, so does wearing a halo.

New York certainly is living a charmed life, first by making the playoffs, then eliminating Houston and finally surviving three shots off the frame by Salt Lake in the semifinal. The Red Bulls are now poised to become the first team with a sub-.500 regular season record to take the top prize.

Meanwhile, the Crew is a study in consistency, going 10-2-3 since July. Returning to his old stomping grounds in L.A., Columbus coach Sigi Schmid could complete a fairytale of his own by raising the cup with his club.

Both Schmid and his counterpart, Juan Carlos Osario, have said that luck may have played a role in their teams getting this far. Next year, is it too much to ask that the same sort of magic makes its way to Seattle?

Turn On, Tune In
Sat., Nov. 22
7 a.m., Setanta, Liverpool v Fulham
Why Watch: Before calling this a done deal, consider that the Cottagers are unbeaten in four

9:30 a.m., FSC, Aston Villa v Manchester United
Why Watch: Fresh off their road upset at Arsenal, the Villains and Friedel bring on United

11:30 a.m., FSC, Inter Milan v Juventus
Why Watch: Besides the 1 v 3 matchup, it’s the first meeting between the two ex-Chelsea bosses

Sun., Nov. 23
12:30 p.m., ABC, Columbus v New York
Why Watch:  Cinderella story ending, or fitting capper for Crew & MVP Schelotto?

1 p.m., GolTV, Sevilla v Valencia
Why Watch: Virtually tied for third, the winner stays in range of Barca

Mon., Nov. 24
11 a.m. (PT), Setanta, Wigan v Everton
Why Watch: Not a lot of buzz for this, the only lunchtime match of the week, but both sides are in good form going in

Wed., Nov. 26
5 p.m. (PT), FSC, Houston v Luis Angel Firpo
Why Watch: America’s last hope, Dynamo must beat Salvadoran champs to reach quarterfinal

Throw-Ins
Washington Youth Soccer has launched a state-wide fundraiser to help with Michelle French’s rising medical bills. French, a native of Kent and former U.S. international and Sounders star, was recently diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. For a $50 entry in the WSYSA raffle (www.wsysa.com), each ticket holder is entered in a contest for a trip for two to see Manchester United host Blackburn in February…You can vote online for Hope Solo in the U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year Awards. Fans can make their selections on that and several other categories once a day through Dec. 8 at ussoccer.com…State championships will be decided Saturday at Lakewood (girls 2A, 3A and 4A) and Sumner (girls 1B/2B, 1A and boys 1B/2B)…The only local team still alive in an NCAA tournament is Seattle Pacific, which defeated Western Washington 1-0 in overtime on Thursday. Next up, the Falcons face host Truman State (Mo.) on Saturday for a spot in the Division II semifinal, Dec. 4 in Tampa…Bremerton’s new entry in the USL Premier Development League will be known as the Kitsap Pumas. They join Tacoma and several other sides from Washington, Oregon and British Columbia in the Northwest Division next year.
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