Seattle Player “Promotion,” AgainBy: Laurie | March 2nd, 2008
I’ve talked before on this page about how the Seattle Sounders USL team have gotten permission to move some of their best players from the Sounders team up to the MLS team next year. Theoretically the two entities are unrelated, but since the owner of the Sounders, Adrian Hanauer, is a part-owner of the new MLS franchise, there were always going to be some links. The question was what those links would look like.
My source article here is over a month old, but it’s an interesting and slightly more in-depth look at how the Seattle Sounders are using their status as a USL team to pick up players for next year’s Seattle MLS team.
When I looked at this issue awhile back, the rumor was that the Seattle MLS team could keep 6-8 Sounders players. This article says that they can keep any and all of them.
“Everything we do, we certainly have one eye on MLS in 2009,” Hanauer said, adding that MLS Seattle can keep as many Sounders as it wants, as long as those players’ rights aren’t controlled by another MLS team.
I’m a little surprised by these numbers. Last month’s rumor of 5-8 players seemed very reasonable. Now it’s as many as they want? I haven’t seen this anywhere else, but if it’s true? What an advantage over your standard expansion team.
I’m surprised I haven’t heard any protests, either from MLS sides or from the USL sides, over the advantage this could give Seattle in recruiting. Especially since last year’s USL Sounders weren’t exactly slackers, even without the promise of MLS to dangle over the players’ heads. The team won both the Supporter’s Shield and the Cup. They also beat Chivas USA 3-1 and the Colorado Rapids 5-0 in the Open Cup before losing to FC Dallas in extra time.
Brian Schmetzer, the current Sounders coach, was at the Combine this year, scouting players along with all the MLS coaches. The goal was to get the pick of the litter of players who weren’t chosen in the MLS SuperDraft, or to get an idea of which players they liked, in case those players were drafted but later cut by the MLS team.
Schmetzer scouted and interviewed prospective players as always, but he had a bargaining chip with MLS hopefuls — the chance, after this season with the Sounders, to stick around and play for the MLS franchise that begins play in Seattle in 2009.
Thanks to a negotiated clause in its ownership agreement, MLS Seattle — of which Hanauer is a part-owner — has the right of first negotiation with any player who didn’t get selected in Friday’s MLS SuperDraft and joins the Sounders this year. That means the club can get the first shot at keeping that player if it wants him for the new franchise.
“We’re a hot USL franchise right now,” Schmetzer said, “There was quite a bit of a buzz going on about that at the combine.”
As a new Seattle season ticket holder, I’m very curious to see how this all plays out, both this year in USL and next year in MLS.
(Photo from GoalSeattle.com)