By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
TUKWILA — Seattle Sounders FC likely will hold another international friendly next season, and the club isn’t ruling out one day hosting a Major League Soccer All-Star Game.
Last month, the Sounders brought in Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League, after going without an international friendly for the first time in 2013. Tottenham’s visit drew 55,439 spectators, and seemed to be well received in several ways.
“I think we are inclined to do it again,” general manager Adrian Hanauer said. “I think we enjoyed the experience. There are negatives and positives to everything, but on balance we think it’s positive.”
Hanauer said the timing worked especially well this season, as the match came during a rare off-weekend in the MLS season.
Other seasons could be different, depending not only on the flow of the MLS schedule but also on whether the Sounders’ schedule inflates with a return to CONCACAF Champions League.
“The way the schedule worked, it was actually pretty good for us to fit a game in there, keep the rhythm,” Hanauer said. “Tottenham were fantastic to work with. It sold well, which indicated to us that our fans — though there are some that fight against friendlies and swear that they’re terrible for the club and we shouldn’t be doing it — the numbers of people that show up would counter that small loud minority. So with all those things sort of put together I think it’s likely that we’ll continue for the foreseeable future.”
The Sounders have included international friendlies as part of their ticket packages five of their six seasons since joining MLS: Chelsea and Barcelona in 2009; Boca Juniors, Celtic and Chivas Guadalajara in 2010; Manchester United in 2011; and Chelsea again in 2012.
In 2009, the Sounders’ season-ticket package also included the MLS Cup final. That game is now hosted by the higher-seeded participant, which makes the MLS All-Star Game the only game annually awarded by the league. Portland played host to the 2014 game last week, drawing a sellout crowd of 21,733, which saw the MLS All-Stars defeat Bayern Munich, 2-1.
Hanauer was asked if the Sounders would be interested in bringing that event to Seattle.
“After every All-Star Game we get together and talk about whether it is something we want to take on,” Hanauer said. “It’s certainly not profitable. It’s a lot of work, a lot of energy going into a period where we like to be focusing on the team and the stretch run. But for sure, seeing what I saw in Portland, fans enjoyed it. Portland did a fantastic job: (Timbers owner Merritt Paulson) and the whole organization were brilliant in terms of the energy provided to the city. Certainly it gets the wheels turning. But I anticipate with all the expansion that’s coming it’s going to be a heavy lift to get an All-Star Game anytime in the near future.”
The Sounders returned to training Thursday at Starfire Sports Complex. They travel Friday for their next MLS match, 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Real Salt Lake. … Schmid didn’t give much away regarding his Saturday lineup. However, he said “you can expected to see” players he rested in the Open Cup semifinal win over Chicago on Wednesday: Clint Dempsey, Chad Marshall and Gonzalo Pineda among them. The club also will be without forward Obafemi Martins, who received a red card last weekend against Houston.