By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
The fate of coach Sigi Schmid has not yet been decided as the Seattle Sounders head into an offseason that general manager Adrian Hanauer said will bring “decent turnover to our roster.”
The club is assessing every aspect of the team just as it does every offseason, Hanauer said Monday in a 40-minute conference call. Yet he admitted the question concerning Schmid is less of a formality than in other offseasons.
“After certain years, there’s more focus put on certain positions, certain areas of focus within the organization,” he said. “So, I suppose you could say maybe there’s a little more thought going into (coaching). But it’s something that we go through every year.”
Hanauer said there is no questioning Schmid’s resume or his talent. However, he said the organization needs to make sure that coach and club are still “on the same page” and that Schmid remains the right coach for this team after five seasons of playoff appearances but no MLS Cups.
“He is a winner,” Hanauer said. “I don’t agree with everything he does. He does 100 things well for the few that I may not agree with. (But if) you start switching coaches: You can get caught in a revolving door pretty quickly of changing coaches. I understand the emotional catharsis that some people have over being able to blame someone. … My job is to weed through what really rationally is the best decision.”
Hanauer said he and majority owner Joe Roth agree such decisions can best be made after allowing time to pass from the emotional end of what the general manager called his most frustrating season with the club.
The season ended Thursday with a loss to Portland in the MLS Western Conference semifinals. After an 0-3-2 start, the Sounders climbed briefly to the top of the league standings before ending the regular season with a seven-game winless streak. Their final record was 16-14-7 in MLS and 21-18-9 across all competitions.
Schmid said after the final match that he wants to return. He is back at work but was not part of the Monday conference call.
Hanauer said that while the coaching decision could take a week or more, the club already has begun its player interviews and roster assessment for 2014.
“There could be some decent turnover on our roster,” he said. “… I think it’s highly likely that Clint (Dempsey), along with (Osvaldo Alonso and) Brad Evans form a triumvirate of leaders on the team going forward. Along with a number of other guys on the team, we feel like 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.”
Other highlights from group and one-on-one interviews with Hanauer:
— The club holds options on designated player Mauro Rosales and goals-leader Eddie Johnson. Johnson has made it clear that he will not be happy playing at the option salary, however Hanauer said he’s not certain it would take a DP designation retain him.
— Asked about tension in the Sounders locker room, he said, “I’d be lying if I said it was the best locker room in the five years I’ve been here.”
— The club made a mistake in not giving Obafemi Martins time off before rushing into MLS action. He added that he believes Martins and Dempsey “can do some damage” together in MLS.
— Dempsey could be loaned to another club over the offseason.
Dempsey, Johnson and Evans have been called in to the United States national team for its final two matches of the year.
The trio has reported to Glasgow where the USA will play Scotland on Friday before meeting Austria in Vienna on Tuesday.
Also called in to the U.S. team were goalkeepers Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Tim Howard (Everton), Sean Johnson (Chicago); defenders DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest), Michael Orozco (Puebla); midfielders Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Roma), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Jermaine Jones (Schalke), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Brek Shea (Stoke City); and forwards Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar) and Chris Wondolowski (San Jose).
The United States already has qualified for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.