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Stray Observations From The Kasey Keller Press Conference

Kasey Keller re-signed with the Sounders and will likely play one more year before retiring and maybe taking a front office or coaching position with the team. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Kasey Keller re-signed with the Sounders and will likely play one more year before retiring and maybe taking a front office or coaching position with the team. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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Don't have time to do a full write-up right now and haven't transcribed my notes, but I did want to go on record with a few clear impressions I was left with after attending Kasey Keller's press conference.

Terms weren't disclosed, either length or amount of the deal, but this is clearly a one-year thing. Although Keller didn't literally say he was retiring after this season, and I suppose there's a chance he could come back, he and GM Adrian Hanauer made it clear that was the plan. They also alluded to keeping Keller around in some other capacity beyond player.

As for the amount Keller is being paid, you didn't have to read too far between the lines to get that Keller probably took a significant pay cut. He isn't playing for the league minimum or anything like that, and he made comments about still wanting to feel like a professional, but I wouldn't be at all shocked if he took at least a $100,00 reduction. He obviously came back with an eye on winning a MLS Cup and he acknowledged that some cap space was created by his re-signing.

Beyond that, it's obvious Keller is exciting about this season. He has no intention of playing out the string, intends to play a similar number of games as last year when he appeared in 38 matches, and has every intention of going out on top. He spoke repeatedly of not wanting to be one of those players who should have retired a year earlier.

Still, the Sounders realize this is a short-term fix. Hanauer practically guaranteed a third goalkeeper would be added to the roster. He mentioned looking far and wide for that player and even mentioned the possibility of bringing in someone from the Academy. Terry Boss is probably going to be the backup when camp opens, but he'll be expected to win that spot.

I also had a chance to talk to Sounders Technical Director Chris Henderson about newly signed midfielder Erik Friberg. The expectation is that he's a player that will compete for a starting spot, not simply bolster the team's depth. He's very much in the mold of a box-to-box midfielder, but he is also a good candidate to take over free-kick duties. The fact that he's going to open camp with the team means he's going to have opportunities that Alvaro Fernandez, for instance, didn't. He might not win the starting job, but he's going to have every opportunity to compete with the likes of Brad Evans and others.

Quotes after the jump.

Adrian Hanauer – Sounders FC Owner and General Manager

(Opening Statement…) “I’m not sure words can describe how valuable (Kasey) has been to this organization on and off the field. It seems like just a few months ago we were in London having dinner together talking about what could, might, should, possibly be with MLS coming to Seattle and the opportunity for him to come home with his family. It’s funny. Time flies when you’re having fun and the last two years have definitely been fun.


I’m not going to go into the statistics and the numbers and all that detail. I think that everyone in this room has watched enough of the games to know that Kasey has been tremendous in the goal, as a leader of the defense back there, more shutouts this year than last year, is obviously testament, especially with some of the movement in and out with the back four. Kasey has just been the total rock, the stability in the back for the team.


Again, as much as I talk about the on the field, the off the field is equally important and impressive with what Kasey has been able to accomplish. He really has become the face of our franchise. Certainly the most recognized player on the team and one of the most recognized American soccer players of all time. It’s been just an amazing asset for us to have as we build this franchise and try to build the brand locally but, as we have said many times, build it globally. Kasey has been such a valuable asset on the field and off the field and over time has become a very good friend of mine, of the entire organization. [. . .]


We certainly talked about what that may or may not translate into beyond his playing days. Kasey will certainly always be a part of the Sounders family and it’s likely and hopeful that he will be involved beyond his playing days. [. . .] With that, we are very happy today that we are announcing that Kasey will be back for the 2011 season and again he will hopefully help us get over the finish line and get an MLS Cup, which I know he would be thrilled to do, especially with the Cascadia Cup, the introduction of the amazing rivalries that will be happening in 2011.”


Kasey Keller – Sounders FC Goalkeeper

(Opening Statement…) “Just to reiterate a little bit of what Adrian just said, the big reason why I’m here and continue to be here is because of the tremendous organization that this club has put forward from day one. [. . .] For myself, being able to come home and know that the guy that I’m going to work with day in and day out is Tom Dutra, a good friend of mine growing up and a guy that I respect a lot, that makes that side of it so much easier for me. To be able to say, ‘Ok, I know I’m going to show up to training and not only get what I need player-wise but also enjoy myself, which if you’re 41 years-old and done this thing for 20 years and you don’t enjoy yourself anymore why the hell are you going to still do it? You have got to still like what you’re doing day in and day out. And then, again, the opportunity to come home after such a long time in Europe and to get my family settled back in the northwest, [. . .] to come home and be able to be a part of something so cool and so unique for soccer in America.


I have talked to many of my ex-teammates with the national team and the situations that they have gotten themselves into back in the U.S. and they are very, very envious of what we have been able to accomplish here in Seattle. The thought of being able to play against Portland, against Vancouver, for one more year is something I just felt I needed to be a part of.


From day one, I always said that I only wanted to do it if I could still compete at the level that I have always set for myself [. . .] The way I feel physically, the way I feel mentally, I see no reason why I can’t continue on for one more season and then be able to go out on my own terms. [. . .] I wanted to be able to say that this is my final year and I that I want to enjoy myself and that I am going to have a great time and that we are going to try to bring home the MLS championship in my last year as a pro.


At the same time, I truly feel that I will be a part of the Seattle Sounders furniture for a long time to come and that was the game plan when I first came back. [. . .] I needed to be somewhere to start to give back, to start to help evolve this game and get it to where we all feel it can be and that it should be in the future and I’m looking forward to that opportunity. But like Adrian said, I’m not going to retire myself early. I have got an important year next year and I want to make sure I can play at that level. [. . .] I’m already looking forward to getting back with the guys and getting ready to hopefully bring home that first MLS championship for the team.”

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