Seattle Sounders majority* owner Adrian Hanauer is generally judicious with his words, slowly choosing them knowing that people (particularly this site) will mine meaning out of every chosen synonym. That’s probably why in Geoff Baker’s story for the Seattle Times Hanauer’s main message is scattered throughout in small clauses or paraphrasing, rather than long drawn out quotes. He comes off as self-critical, critical of President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey and makes a promise to the fanbase.
Probably the biggest note is that the owner is going public. He, through Baker, promises that the team will do whatever it takes to challenge for championships. After their long conversation Baker sums it up saying “Hanauer admitted he’s ‘very concerned’ about any perception the team is not committed to deploying its full financial resources to win.”
That concern among fans certainly wasn’t started by Lagerwey’s quotes a few weeks ago. Rather, thise quotes served to amplify those concerns. Lagerwey would eventually admit his mistakes, but in light of the losses that have piled up since then, Hanauer is still addressing them one month later.
To the Times, Hanauer says he was out of town but called Lagerwey to discuss the choice of words, but also does not think the Sounders are going to lose fans over it, as long as they start winning again.
“I don’t think you lose fans over comments,’’ he added. “I think you lose fans over performance and doing the right things on and off the field. So, I wasn’t so much worried about the comments as I was making sure we are true to our strategy and philosophy, which is to continue to put teams on the field that compete for a championship every single year.’’
Sprinkled throughout are justifications for the offseason and primary transfer window plan that failed/is failing. There’s insight into how much the club thinks Clint Dempsey has faded and how high they were on Jordan Morris. Adrian makes it clear the current players are the ones who need to make the playoff math easier so that the secondary transfer window additions can matter.
Through the disappointment in the General Manager’s words, his plan, the performance on the field there is one thing that Hanauer still believes in, his fans. He holds faith in them, and reiterates a commitment he’s made since he joined MLS.
“I want our fans believing in us organizationally,’’ Hanauer said. “But really, the proof is in the pudding. Our fans will believe in us by us continuing to put a championship team on the field. And to date this year, we have not. And so, we need to fix that.’’
Despite a Hanauer/Schmetzer team not having missed the playoffs since 2006 (after a championship) and that being the only time in their 17-year association that they missed the playoffs, there is a significant element of the fanbase that no longer believes in the mystique and grandeur of the Seattle Sounders. It is going to take time for fans to believe again. Even those with rave green blood see the current season as shockingly disappointing, at best. It will take a combination of wins, highlight reel performances and a heroic outlay of funds and scouting to bring in an end-of-season-awards level of talent.
It’s going to take trophies.
*In MLS a majority owner only needs hold 35% of the investor-operator stake in a specific team. Hanauer has about that with Joe Roth having just under 35%, Paul Allen with ~25% and Drew Carey at ~5%.