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A Look Ahead to Next Season

L-R: SFC Sporting Director Chris Henderson, ownership member Drew Carey, and head coach Sigi Schmid. (via SoundersFC.com)

Disappointment simply is; the rest remains ours to decide.

Certes, the loss of local team’s chance to play for the league championship is disappointing, but then again it is hardly like losing a war, or even sending troops abroad to a war they don’t need to fight. Disappointment is relative; its magnitude and priority are determined in the mind of the beholder.

And when that disappointment also means the end of a sporting season, there are plenty of ways to distract ourselves. For instance, there are the farewells and thanks to offer:

In the summer of 2012, Marcus Hahnemann got an unexpected call from Adrian Hanauer, the Owner & General Manager of Sounders FC. He was asked if he wanted to play.

“My question was, ‘For who?'” Hahnemann recalls. “He said the Sounders, and I went, ‘Yeah, I’m in, but [goalkeeper coach Tom Dutra] should probably come take a look at me, because I haven’t been training for three months.'”

Hahnemann was a retired goalkeeper living in the Seattle area when he received that call. He always wanted to return to his hometown’s club, but the opportunity didn’t work out in Sounders FC’s first three years in MLS.

Hanauer gave him that opportunity, and now a couple of years later, Hahnemann is retiring as a member of the team he began his career with more than two decades ago.

(Lester)

Sounder at heart. Sounder for life. Thank you, Marcus Hahnemann.

And then there are the questions of who will return next year; Sounder FC Public Relations devised a handy Q&A session with SFC Sporting Director Chris Henderson about the eleven protected players announced this week:

What are your thoughts on the 11 players the club chose to protect in Wednesday’s Expansion Draft?

“It’s always a difficult decision to protect just 11 players on your roster. There are so many factors to consider on the team side and the player side, as well. We have a lot of great players to choose from because we’ve made it a priority to have a deep roster that can compete in all competitions. We wish we could protect more, but unfortunately it’s a reality of our sport, so we have to make some tough decisions.”

There are some veteran players on Sounders FC’s unprotected list. When you make these decisions on specific personnel, is there a calculated risk for the technical staff?

“Yeah, there is. You have to look at the whole team. It’s a difficult decision having to pick 11 guys. We’ve all discussed things and debated it, and there’s a lot that goes into it with regards to age and player form, contracts, the future of the team and where we’re going. We’ve had some really tough decisions and you can only protect 11, so there’s many times we wish we could protect 15, but we had to cut off the line. We keep our fingers crossed leading into this draft. Sometimes you take risk and you leave a player out there and you can get by without losing someone.”

The protected players list arrived yesterday, and it looks about like we might expect. Furthermore, the dynamic this year is altered by the arrival of two new clubs—note the word “expansion”. And perhaps this is one of the strengths of soccer; professional-league expansion requires large sums of money in order that the new teams can have something of a chance coming out of the gate. But the personnel contract rules for soccer are considerably different from what Americans are accustomed to with NFL, MLB, and NBA contracts. For the sake of the league, that works out okay.

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A Kick in the Holiday Season

The U.S. Women's National Team heads to Brasilia in December.

The MLS might take a break in the middle of the playoffs for the sake of international fútbol, but the U.S. Women’s National Team has a tough run in December, packing four games into eleven days for the 2014 Brasilia International Tournament.

That said, up in the Pacific Northwest fans are preparing for Sunday night’s showdown in Carson when Sounders FC will meet L.A. Galaxy in the first leg of their Western Conference Final match. Their last meeting was less than a month ago, with the Seattle club taking a 2-0 win and also the Supporters’ Shield, much to the delight of over fifty-seven thousand fans at CenturyLink Field.

Meanwhile, Don Ruiz offers the latest preview of Sunday’s big game:

The Seattle Sounders would be notably short of their best without forward Clint Dempsey and defender DeAndre Yedlin, just as the Los Angeles Galaxy wouldn’t look the same without goals-leader Robbie Keane.

Those realities led Major League Soccer to schedule a break between its conference semifinal and final rounds, going dark during a two-week window for international play.

For the USA, that window closed Tuesday with a 4-1 loss to Ireland in Dublin. The USA played without MLS stars Dempsey, Yedlin and New England midfielders Jermaine Jones and Lee Nguyen. Dempsey wasn’t called for either of the United States friendlies during the MLS break, while the others were released after the first match last week — a 2-1 loss to Colombia — so that they could spend this week in playoff preparations with their club teams. Ireland did the same with Keane.

“It’s good,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said of Yedlin’s early return this week. “Obviously they have Robbie Keane back as well, so it’s the same for everybody. It’s good that (U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann) allowed those guys … to return after the game. That’s what we thought was going to happen, and that happened.”

While Clint Dempsey acknowledges feeling “pretty beat up, pretty tired” from all the running around, DeAndre Yedlin—who will play next season with Tottenham Hotspur—says he’s ready, citing the one asset he has over the veteran superstar: youth.

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