Sounders FC

Transfer window closes quietly

An MLS international transfer window passed Thursday without any moves from Sounders FC.

That happened for a couple of reasons, general manager Adrian Hanauer said. Among them was his continuing belief that the current roster should produce an MLS Cup contender in the club’s second season. The Sounders have a 1-1-1 record.

“We’ve always said we’ll only make moves that are good for the team, that are an improvement,” Hanauer said Thursday. “We have limited cap space available. We have what we feel are limited weaknesses on our team. We feel like we have a very good team and we haven’t played our best soccer, and when we start firing on all cylinders we’ll be one of the best teams in the league.

“We have a very good player in (striker Blaise) Nkufo coming in the summer – we’re 10 games away from Nkufo being a big part of this team. We just ultimately decided that unless a particular piece had fallen into place the way we wanted it, we weren’t going to just do it for the heck of it.”

Hanauer also cited the MLS schedule, which runs contrary to most leagues around the world.

He said the Sounders were tracking several international players. But with most clubs in midseason, there is little incentive for them to part with a useful player in advance of their stretch run.

“The challenge of this time of year is that players are on teams, which means the teams have to either let a player go free – saying, ‘Here, take my player for the end of my season, we don’t want him’ – or you have to buy a player,” Hanauer said. “In our league, a transfer fee counts against the salary cap, which makes it very challenging to buy and pay a player to come in when you have very limited cap resources.”

The next transfer window opens July 15, which projects as a more promising time for player movement.

Friendlies coming?

If in-season international transfers weren’t challenging enough, Hanauer said Sounders FC also has had its hands full trying to arrange the three international friendlies promised as part of the season-ticket package.

None has yet been announced, but Hanauer hopes to have something finalized within the next week or two.

“It is honestly like herding cats to get these games to contract,” he said. “Management changes, coaches change, destinations change, offers change from all over the world. These teams have multiple representatives bringing them offers. And teams are trying to get multiple games, so then you’re working with multiple teams’ schedules. It’s just difficult to get it over the finish line.”

The difficulties are complicated by the World Cup being played this summer, drawing many of the best players from many of the world’s best-known teams.

Hanauer implied those factors may result in matches with lower wow-factors than last season, when Chelsea and Barcelona met the Sounders at Qwest Field.

“We’ll have great quality,” he said. “The names might not be as big as last year. But what we also didn’t want to do was bring the big-name teams missing the big-name players, many of whom will be at the World Cup. So we would rather bring a very, very high-quality team that has all of their players in place. We feel like that’s delivering more to the fans than the reserve team of a big name.”

Third uniform?

Signs point to the Sounders unveiling a third jersey next week.

The organization wouldn’t comment directly. However, senior vice president of business operations Gary Wright said the club’s identity is established well enough now that a third kit wouldn’t create confusion about the brand.

“To me, the philosophy was it was important to establish the fact that we were rave green,” Wright said. “The more we could wear that, the more we could emphasize that. Now, I think everybody gets that. So now we (could) join the world’s community and have three like everybody.”

Added time

Forward Miguel Montano, who has been training with the Sounders while his contract is being completed, has been called in by the Colombia Under-20 national team. He will join Colombia for friendly matches against Ecuador on Thursday and April 25 and will return to Seattle on April 26. Montano is 18 years old. … The Sounders practiced at Qwest Field on Thursday, preparing for their Saturday match there against the Kansas City Wizards. The club returns to Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila for training today.

Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com

blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer

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