Seattle Sounders FC already is planning for its 2010 season – and also might be closing in on one decision for 2011.
Goalkeeper Kasey Keller, who is halfway through his two-year contract with the club, reiterated Thursday that he would like that extended at least one season.
“I’ve said quite publicly that I would love to be part of the team in 2011, when Portland and Vancouver come in,” said Keller, who turns 40 on Nov. 29. “And then if my body is willing – and right now I see no reason why not – that I could continue to play. If (41-year-old Houston keeper Pat) Onstad can continue to play, I don’t see any reason that I can’t. And I’m sure (Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer) and I will discuss it. We’ll find the right time to have those discussions.”
Hanauer said during the season that he would be interested in extending Keller’s contract and then in keeping Keller involved with the club even after his playing career ends.
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Keller, who grew up in Lacey, returned to his home state this season to join the Sounders after 16 professional seasons in England, Germany and Spain.
In his first MLS season, he finished second in the league in goals-against average (0.92) and shutouts (10) and was among three finalists for goalkeeper of the year honors.
“I feel great,” he said. “I feel very happy with the way my body responded all season.”
Keller’s possible contract extension is one of many personnel decisions awaiting the Sounders this offseason.
Coach Sigi Schmid met with his players Thursday at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, telling them what he could about the club’s plans for next season, while acknowledging that not all of those players will be included.
“There are always changes,” Schmid said. “Like I told the group just now: This group won’t be the same next year. There’s going to be some changes. Probably most of the guys are going to be back, but there will be some guys who won’t be back. … So now it’s already into that next stage of evolution for us of how can we make this puzzle better and how can we add some pieces that make us stronger. We are working on that as we speak.”
Schmid said he has a good working relationship with Hanauer and technical director Chris Henderson. He cited the way that the club reacted to his earlier concerns by trading for players such as Patrick Ianni and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, and the midseason signing of outside back Leo Gonzalez.
For the coming season, Schmid said he wants the Sounders to become physically stronger, so that they can match up better with teams such as Houston, Chivas USA and New England – against which Seattle went a combined 1-5-3 last season.
He also said he would like the second Sounders team to become better at breaking down opponents that go into defensive shells, especially at Qwest Field.
“Those are all things that coming into this season we didn’t know,” Schmid said. “Now that we know, we can be very pointed and directional in our movement.”
One immediate personnel issue confronting the Sounders is determining which 11 players to protect from the Philadelphia Union in the expansion draft, which is just a couple of weeks away.
“We’ve gone through it a couple of times, so we have an idea,” Schmid said. “There are still some questions that we want to think about a little bit, but we’re still pretty close.”
It was also revealed that Steve Zakuani (shoulder) and Zach Scott (groin) each went through successful surgeries and should be ready for the start of training camp in January.
Schmid also said the club expects goals leader Fredy Montero and assists leader Freddie Ljungberg to return.
“That’s a fluid conversation,” he said. “It’s ongoing. There is nothing to report on that. Our expectation is that they will both be back next year.”