Sounders' Hanauer: We need more from DPs in playoffs

TUKWILA, Wash. – Only one team has won more games and scored more goals than the Seattle Sounders over the past four years: the LA Galaxy.

That’s the same Galaxy who knocked the Sounders out of the playoffs this year and are now trying to become the third back-to-back MLS Cup champion in league history.

Although Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer insists “we don’t want to be the Galaxy,” he acknowledges his team would benefit from the kind of playoff performances LA get from their marquee players.

“I think it’s fair to say that none of our Designated Players in the playoff series that we’ve played in the history of our existence have carried the team on their back,” Hanauer said during a postseason press conference on Tuesday. “That doesn’t mean any of our current DPs couldn’t do that, or won’t do that in the future. But for sure … we would like to have players – whether they are Designated Players or non-Designated Players – who can carry a team on their back and get the team over the hump.”

To do that, Hanauer and his fellow Sounders owners are prepared to increase expenditures. Buoyed by an average crowd of nearly 45,000 fans per game, Hanauer readily admits that the club is doing well financially and that reinvesting some of that money would probably be wise.

“Those conversations are ongoing right now,” he said. “And I think that yes, they are shifting. Our business is stable now. We still want to run a rational business and a business that’s sustainable. But we do think that there’s an opportunity to maybe push the envelope a little bit. Again, that doesn’t mean we will. It only means that we’ll make changes that we think will make our team better clearly. We don’t want to spend more money just for the heck of it.”

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As has been demonstrated time and time again in MLS, money doesn’t cure all ills. Finding the right kind of player for the right team is probably more important than simply finding the most expensive player who’s willing to sign a contract.

“There are so many different roads that lead to Rome, and there so many different ways to achieve success,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said during the press conference. “It’s working right now in LA, it’s not working right now in New York. Houston does it a different way as well.”

Both Schmid and Hanauer insisted that, in general, they were pleased with the play of their DPs. Mauro Rosales equaled the 13 assists he had a year ago despite battling injury. Fredy Montero set a career high with 13 goals and added eight assists. Christian Tiffert had just two assists during the regular season, but he joined the team midway through and had arguably his best game in what turned out to be the season finale.

It’s also a bit easier to talk about making room than actually making it.

“Something’s got to give,” Hanauer said in regards to the team’s salary cap situation. “Either we need to sell a player and get allocation money, we need to renegotiate contracts, we need to make trades, we need to have one less DP. But something usually has to give every year. It’s not like this is the first time we’ve ever dealt with this. So we’ll figure it out.”