Just hours after Seattle’s 2013 season came to a close, Owner and General Manager Adrian Hanauer had already started the process of turning the page toward the 2014 campaign.
While no formal announcements are soon expected on just what direction that will take the club, the wheels are already in motion and this week, Hanauer discussed the first five seasons of the club and the future that is in store.
As always, though, the offseason starts with some time away.
“Just like every year in the past, we’ve taken some time after the season ends to decompress a little bit and catch our breath and meet and talk through what went well and what didn’t go well and what the solutions are to what didn’t go well,” Hanauer said. “This year will be no different. We are going through that process as of now. There are a lot of big decisions that ownership has to make over this offseason and we will take our time, be methodical, be rational and hopefully not make emotional decisions based on the pain and frustration of losing a playoff series like we did to Portland.”
That process will take place over the next few weeks as Hanauer, Owner Joe Roth and the rest of the soccer staff assess every position from the top of the organization to the last player on the roster.
In that time, players will undergo their exit physicals and meet with the coaches. Many will return in January when training camp starts again, but the nature of Major League Soccer means that some won’t be back. That would be true even if Seattle had won MLS Cup, but since the 2013 season fell short of that ultimate goal, that time away to avoid emotional decisions is even more important to Hanauer.
“I’m as frustrated as anyone that we haven’t won an MLS Cup,” he said. “We’re not in any massive hurry to make quick decisions. We just want to make the right decisions and get things back on track and get our noses to the grindstone to build for next season.”
Hanauer wouldn’t get into specifics of what areas Seattle would be looking to improve in 2014, other than to say that it wants to “get better everywhere.”
One area that is not likely to look much different, though, is in the middle of the park, where Osvaldo Alonso and Brad Evans have been staples since the inaugural match in 2009 and Clint Dempsey has added a new dynamic that could potentially change the makeup of the Sounders FC attack.
Just where he fits into that puzzle will be a determining factor in the makeup of the team in 2014.
“We know we have got a fantastic player in the spine of our team, whether he is playing forward or in the midfield position,” Hanauer said. “I think that it’s highly likely that Clint along with Ozzie and Brad form a triumvirate of leaders on the team going forward. Along with a number of other guys on the team we feel that we have a very good core going into the offseason, but that doesn’t change the fact that we feel we need to make some other changes to get back on track.”
After December 1, when player options will either be exercised or declined, some of those eligible players will go through the Re-Entry Draft in mid-December while others will become free agents. Then teams will take part in the MLS SuperDraft in mid-January, just before training camp begins for Sounders FC’s sixth season in MLS.