Major League Soccer’s season doesn’t end until the final whistle of MLS Cup on Sunday, however Seattle Sounders FC is making plans for next season.
Just about everything is on the table, from losing a player in next week’s expansion draft to potentially bringing in a second designated player, general manager Adrian Hanauer said this week.
“We’re always looking to get better, and we’re willing to be aggressive to do so,” he said. “We’ve toyed with the idea and have had conversations with teams for trading for a second DP slot. ... It’s certainly possible, but we’ll only do it if it makes sense for the team to win more games and perform better on the field, not just to bring another designated player onto the team.”
Once the Los Angeles Galaxy and Real Salt Lake conclude their 5:30 p.m. Sunday championship game at Qwest Field, MLS will waste little time in turning its attention to 2010.
The next day, the league opens a half-day trade window. Soon after that window shuts, clubs must submit their lists of 11 players who will be protected for the Philadelphia Union’s expansion draft.
“There are one or two at the end (of the list) that are a little tougher for us, but for the most part we know who we are going to protect,” Hanauer said. “That doesn’t mean that we’re not actively in discussions with teams about potentially using that half-day trade window to tweak a thing or two here or there.”
Hanauer said teams sometimes try to trade players they wouldn’t protect in order to get something in return. Once the protected lists are submitted, executives of the new Philadelphia franchise will have a day to consider available players and then will announce their selections Wednesday.
After losing no more than one player to the Union, the Sounders will turn their attention to improving their own roster.
The club retains the rights to every player who ended the season on its roster except for defender Tyson Wahl, and Hanauer said he hopes to reach a new deal with him. Forward Fredy Montero and defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado are on loan from their Colombian team, however Major League Soccer has the option to buy those contracts.
“We’re very happy with Hurtado and Montero,” Hanauer said. “And we’re working toward keeping those players for another season and possibly seasons beyond that.”
The Sounders plan to hold player tryouts in Las Vegas in December, in advance of MLS’ college player combine Jan. 9-12 in Florida.
The college SuperDraft will be held Jan. 13.
The Sounders plan to begin training camp in late January. As they did last season, the club will begin training in the Puget Sound area and then shift overseas. This season, they plan to practice and play training games Spain, with perhaps a short stop in London.
The Sounders’ second season begins March 25 when the Union visits Qwest Field. However, that depends on MLS and its players agreeing on a new collective bargaining agreement. The current deal expires Jan. 31.
“(Labor negations) have ebbs and flows and at times they become heated,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said this week. “I expect that this will be a difficult agreement to finalize. But I am very confident that we will be able to reach a productive agreement.”
Los Angeles forward Landon Donovan was named winner of the MLS most valuable player award Thursday. It was the first MVP award for Donovan, who is 27 and a nine-season veteran of the league. He led the Galaxy with 12 goals and six assists in just 25 games due to duty with the U.S. national team. Other finalists were Jeff Cunningham of Dallas and Shalrie Joseph of New England. ... On Wednesday, the league awarded goal-of-the-year honors to Donovan for his Aug. 8 left-footed volley against New England. Save-of-the-year went to Pat Onstad of Houston for his April 19 double-save – a penalty kick and rebound – against Colorado. ... Chris Seitz of Real Salt Lake and Alan Gordon of the Galaxy will toss fish at Seattle’s Pike Place Market at 4 p.m. today.