From the moment the season ended, Sounders FC Owner and General Manager Adrian Hanauer had a strong feeling that there would be some big moves ahead of him in the offseason.
Tuesday was the culmination of several of those moves when Hanauer sent mercurial forward Eddie Johnson to DC United in exchange for allocation money, setting up Seattle to make additional moves to structure the roster for 2014.
“It was a large amount of allocation money that will help us to make the roster moves that we have already made and that we continue to make in the not-too-distant future,” Hanauer said on a conference call on Tuesday. “We just thought that this was the best solution for us to manage our roster the way we want to manage it and hopefully get us in a position to compete for a championship in 2014.”
Driven by a desire to create more balance and cohesion in the lineup, Hanauer has already made four acquisitions from trades within the league, though two of them are in contract negotiations.
Goalkeeper Stefan Frei solidifies the goalkeeper position after five years with Toronto FC, filling the gap left by the departure of two-year starter Michael Gspurning.
“Stefan is a goalkeeper that we’ve followed since he came out of Cal,” Hanauer said. “We think we got a very good young goalkeeper who is going to continue to improve and improved our cap situation dramatically. We feel like we’re set well from the goalkeeping position.”
In Chad Marshall, Hanauer has also addressed a longtime desire to acquire a dominant central defender and Marshall certainly fits the bill. In 2008 and 2009 he was the MLS Defender of the Year and his level has remained very high in the time since then.
After 10 seasons in a Columbus Crew uniform, his six-foot-four frame will provide a strong presence to a defense that was strong at times but lacked consistency in 2013.
“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,” Hanauer said. “That was one of our offseason priorities was to continue to upgrade ourselves defensively, specifically at center back. We think Chad will have done that for us.”
Additionally, Kenny Cooper and Tristan Bowen add attacking options in a part of the field where Seattle has lost the most this offseason with the departures of Johnson, Steve Zakuani and Mauro Rosales.
Both Cooper and Bowen are in contract negotiations to play in Seattle and, while unfinished, could potentially add to Seattle’s vision of a team strong in possession and workrate.
However, Hanauer indicated that there may be more to come when it comes to compiling the 2014 roster.
“We need to dot the i’s and cross the t’s on Kenny Cooper and Tristan Bowen. That’s maybe step one,” he said. “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 fair to say with Mauro and Steve going, that width in the midfield is potentially in the area that we’d be looking at, but we could potentially still be interested in getting better defensively, or at another spot in the midfield, or even adding another forward. I would say we’re still pretty far from the finished product.”
Sounders FC opens training camp on January 25 and kicks off the MLS regular season on March 8 at home against Sporting Kansas City.