Ever since announcing that the club’s fans would have a chance to vote on the retention of their general manager, the Sounders FC has said that if it ever got to the point where the fans voted out the GM, the team probably would have already taken that action.
After four consecutive playoff berths, four straight appearances in the US Open Cup final with three victories to show for it, a second straight appearance in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals and the second-best record in Major League Soccer over the last four years, it was clear that Seattle had not reached that threshold quite yet.
On Thursday, it was announced at the End of Year Business Meeting that GM Adrian Hanauer would maintain his role in charge of the Sounders FC.
“I’m certainly humbled that fans feel like we’ve done things pretty well and are headed in the right direction,” Hanauer said. “That doesn’t change my obsession and paranoia about continuing to get better and better.”
His success with soccer in Seattle started well before MLS came to town though.
Before the Sounders FC entered Major League Soccer in 2009, Hanauer was the owner of the Sounders at the USL level, keeping the game alive in the Emerald City. Once he became managing partner in 2002, the club sky-rocketed to the top tier of teams in the US second division. They won the Commissioner’s Cup for the best regular-season record in 2002 and 2007 and the league championship in 2005 and 2007.
All the while, he brought to Seattle future MLS players Taylor Graham, Roger Levesque and Zach Scott, who all played at least three years with the Sounders FC and the Sounders of the USL, as well as Sebastien Le Toux, Sanna Nyassi and Josh Gardner.
Even with those 11 seasons as a backdrop, Hanauer still has an eye toward greater goals for the organization.
“For me, it’s not good enough yet and I know that everyone else in the organization is hungry for a MLS Cup, a Supporters’ Shield and a Champions League trophy,” he said. “With or without the overwhelming support, fans should know that we remain absolutely dedicated to the greater goals and objectives, which is to win trophies for this community.”
The GM vote was the culmination of five years that the organization has touted Democracy in Sports, starting when fans voted for the club name in 2008, with more fans writing in some variation of Sounders to win the vote and anoint the team “Sounders FC.”
The theme continued once the team took the field in 2009, with the forming of the Alliance Council and several other topics over the course of four years, beginning the process of building the format for the club’s democracy that will develop into the vision held by the ownership group of Hanauer, Paul Allen, Drew Carey and majority owner Joe Roth.
“This is an evolution and we’re in the very early stages of developing this democracy and the processes by which we demonstrate the democracy. I think we’ve come a long way. We’re four years into what hopefully will be generations and generations of democracy in this sport in this community,” Hanauer said. “Some of the ways that we meet with fans on a regular basis. Some of the decisions that fans have been involved in in shaping the club. The general manager vote is another step in that direction.”
The next GM vote will take place in 2016.