Sounders FC hopes that it’s not done setting attendance records.
The crowd of 64,140 who watched the Sounders’ 2-1 win over San Jose at CenturyLink Field on Saturday was about 26,000 more than the number that attends a typical Sounders game.
Now the club wants to turn some of those first-time or occasional fans into season ticket-holders.
“I hope so,” general manager Adrian Hanauer said Sunday. “As I told someone before: The hand-to-hand combat starts Monday morning with all those people (who) are not season ticket-holders. I imagine that people had some pretty good experiences. I think if it makes sense for them financially and time-wise, they might be prime targets (to be) season ticket-holders.”
The largest crowd of the Major League Soccer season helped the Sounders set an average league attendance record for the third consecutive year at 38,498 a game.
Early indications are that current season ticket-holders are renewing at a rate higher than last season, Hanauer said.
If even more can be added, the club might have to expand seating capacity again.
One of the potential areas would be opening the Hawks Nest in the north end, an area covered by advertising since the Sounders’ inaugural season.
“We’ve had conversations about the Hawks Nest area,” Hanauer said, “and it’s certainly something that we’re working towards. But nothing is determined yet. And we want to make sure that demand fits supply appropriately.”
Rookie Bryan Meredith was the reserve goalkeeper in the 2-1 win over San Jose on Saturday because previous No. 2 keeper, Josh Ford, had “a little bit of a knee issue,” coach Sigi Schmid said.
Ford was better Sunday, Schmid said, but he did not reveal his goalkeeping plans for Tuesday, when the Sounders conclude CONCACAF Champions League group play with a visit from Monterrey, Mexico.
Meanwhile, Schmid said he saw instant improvement in his team when midfielder Mauro Rosales returned from his knee injury in the second half Saturday.
Rosales said it was good to be back and that he expects to be at 100 percent healthy in time for the playoffs.
“I feel some pain, but I don’t know why,” Rosales said. “Maybe it was because I have to warm it up a little bit more. Coming off the bench is difficult to do, but it’s OK. It’s getting better. Every week I feel the difference in my knee, and I hope Saturday (at Chivas USA) I can play more minutes.”
Also Saturday, forward Sammy Ochoa scored his first goal since signing in August.
“Obviously, he finished it well,” Schmid said. “That’s the reason we brought Sammy here. He’s getting fitter, and he had an impact on the game.”
Hanauer said negotiations for a new contract for Rosales are going well and he expects “we’ll have something done in weeks, not months.” Hanauer also was asked about rumors that the Sounders are interested in signing veteran goalkeeper Michael Gspurning. “We know Michael well; he was here during the summer,” Hanauer said. “Big, very accomplished goalkeeper playing in Greece. He is a player that we like. We’ve made no secret that we are looking to potentially sign a goalkeeper for next season, although we’re also very confident in our young players here.” The combination of a Dallas win and a Salt Lake loss last week left the teams tied for third place in the Western Conference and therefore an opening playoff date against the Sounders. Dallas ends its season Saturday at San Jose, while RSL is home to Portland. If the teams finish even, RSL holds the tie-breaker.