No matter what happens during the offseason, the Sounders FC roster will look much different in 2015. It’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Seattle had more than a dozen new faces at the start of the 2014 season, and many of them would play a part in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title and Supporters’ Shield. Chad Marshall was the Defender of the Year, Stefan Frei set the post-shootout era record for wins by a goalkeeper, and Kenny Cooper was named U.S. Open Cup Player of the Tournament. Marco Pappa clinched the Shield for Seattle with a pair of goals against LA on October 25.
On Thursday the club announced it has declined the contract options of eight players. That doesn’t mean some of them can’t be back with Sounders FC in 2015, though Adrian Hanauer and the technical staff are prepared to find replacements.
“We always try to look one or two windows ahead,” said Hanauer, the Owner & General Manager of Sounders FC. “So the scouting has been ongoing. Even since the beginning of this year in January, we looked to see what our needs will be in 2015.
“We have a lot of players on our radar who could potentially come in and help us. We are taking our time, and we are making sure we are getting it right, but we are highly confident that if we lose players here and there in the Expansion Draft, we are in a good position to replace those players.”
Hanauer is already sure of two players the Sounders will need to replace: Marcus Hahnemann and DeAndre Yedlin. Hahnemann announced his retirement via Instagram earlier this week, while Yedlin will likely be headed to Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League sometime in the next few weeks.
This week Yedlin was named 2014 U.S. Soccer Young Male Athlete of the Year. He will be dearly missed in Seattle, but the challenge ahead of him at Spurs will allow the 21-year-old to further develop his game.
“He will continue to grow and he will continue to improve,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “We wish him nothing but the best as he moves forward to Tottenham. As I say to the team at the end of the year, this group will never be together again. There is always going to be some changes and so now we have got to look at replacing him.”
Yedlin is a product of the Sounders FC Academy and signed as the club’s first Homegrown Player two years ago. With the launch of Seattle’s USL PRO team, Sounders FC 2, the hope is that young players will continue to develop as quickly as he did.
It certainly won’t be the same next year without the players Seattle is losing. But the addition of S2, along with the ability to sign players from around the world, has the club optimistic about its future.
“We have a list of guys from different continents and we have to look to see which guys fit the best,” Sounders FC Sporting Director Chris Henderson said. “We want to find the players that can be the best players for our club and our league.”