TUKWILA, Wash. – After what Seattle Sounders FC general manager Adrian Hanauer called “generally another solid season,” it might be time for the team to spend more.
Belief within the organization – starting at the top with ownership – is shifting that way, Hanauer said in an end-of-the-year news conference Tuesday, but major changes won’t be made to try to emulate the success of other MLS teams.
Particularly not the star-laden Los Angeles Galaxy, who ended Seattle’s season in the Western Conference finals and will play for a second straight championship Saturday.
“We want to be Seattle,” Hanauer said. “We want to play the kind of soccer that we want to play. … We want results, we want to win trophies – we’ve done that.
“For sure we want to do it better, but we don’t want to be reactive. Just to be clear, we don’t want to be L.A. We just don’t.”
Spending is always a delicate balance in MLS, which has a tight salary cap ($2.81 million in 2012 but set to increase marginally next season). One way to skirt that limit is through allocation money, something of which the Sounders are running out, Hanauer said.
Another way to avoid those financial constraints is by signing designated players, where only a portion of their salaries count toward the cap.
So is it time to bring a world-class star to Seattle? Coach Sigi Schmid has expressed multiple times, and again Tuesday, that the team’s DPs of Fredy Montero, Mauro Rosales and Christian Tiffert lack the experience and leadership of the Galaxy trio of David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane.
Hanauer stated the team is willing and interested in “dreaming big.”
“We do think that there’s an opportunity to maybe push the envelope a little bit,” said Hanauer, who said the Sounders lead MLS in ticket revenue and rank in the top third in total revenue. “It doesn’t mean we will. … Clearly, we don’t want to spend more money just for the heck of it.”
Schmid warned, however, that New York has spent millions on its three DPs, who boast similar résumés to the Galaxy stars, to little gain.
“There are so many different ways to achieve success,” the coach said.
Schmid and his staff have been holding meetings with players this week looking ahead to next year.
“There’s still another level for us to get to,” he said, “but I think we’re within view of the summit.”