Jobs could be on the line if the Seattle Sounders don’t soon correct the problems that have pushed their winless streak in MLS play to seven games.
Those were the words of Sounders general manager and part owner Adrian Hanauer during a recent conversation with MLSsoccer.com.
“Joe [Roth] and I talk about this: We’re in show business,” Hanauer said about conversations he’s had with the Sounders majority owner, who is also a movie producer. “If the show is bad, people are going to stop coming to the show and if people stop coming to the show people start losing their jobs. We’re not going to let the show deteriorate without a fight.
“Everyone in the organizations needs to know, myself included, if people aren’t performing individually and working as a team to their optimal levels and their potential, then they may not have a job, at least not with our organization,” he added. “I wouldn’t say it’s a richter-13 disaster state, but this is not Seattle Sounders soccer and we’re not going to tolerate it unless it changes.”
With the summer transfer window having opened on Wednesday, the Sounders are definitely on the lookout for potential additions. Hanauer acknowledged that one of the players on the Sounders’ list is midfielder Christian Tiffert, who is currently under contract with recently relegated Bundesliga side Kaiserslautern.
But Tiffert is just one of several players the Sounders are currently eyeing.
“We are having conversations with multiple players, some of whom are Designated Players, some of whom are not Designated Players,” Hanauer said, noting that he and technical director Chris Henderson recently got back from a scouting a group of approximately six players in Argentina.
“We understand we have three Designated Players today, but in light of what’s going on with our team, we need to get it right," Hanauer added. "Certainly the higher someone’s compensation, the higher the expectations that they deliver for the organization. That’s just the reality of pro sports and the business we’re in.”
Whether the play of the Sounders’ three highest paid players is directly responsible for their current slide is certainly debatable, but their collective drop off in production is not. A year after Fredy Montero, Mauro Rosales and Álvaro Fernández combined for 26 goals and 22 assists, the trio has five goals and nine assists almost halfway through the season.
Hanauer acknowledged the Sounders’ current problems are hardly confined to one group of players — pointing out things that could be done by everyone from him down to the training staff — but also made it clear that simply waiting for things to improve was not in the plans.
“You don’t see very many sports teams that are flying and enjoying great success making bold shocking changes,” he said. “But when teams go on skids and they are struggling, it raises that likelihood. That likelihood has been raised.
"At the same time, we’ve always tried to be really disciplined and we’re not going to make change just for change’s sake and just make a bold statement just because we’re struggling. We’re only going to do it if we think we’re going to make our team better. Certainly the last few weeks has made us much more willing to explore some major changes in the organization.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.