Sounders FC General Manager Adrian Hanauer:"'I’ll
do whatever’s necessary for the team to succeed."
Hallo again readers. It’s been a busy weekend of World Cup
action and the results are beginning to have consequences
for qualification. It seems almost habitual that we lead
with the travails of the French national team. Raymond
Domenech was rumored to be facing the chop after France’s
dismal performance in Euro 2008. Somehow he survived. Then
France opened their World Cup campaign with a shock defeat
in Austria. And once more ‘les couteaux’ were out for him.
He seemed to be over the worst after France beat Serbia 2-1
at home. However by 17 minutes after kick off in
last Saturday, the pendulum had swung against him again as
France were trailing 2-0 to goals from Florentin Petre and
Dorin Goian. France recovered to draw 2-2 but this may not
be enough to save Domenech’s job.
The French Football Federation meets on Wednesday to decide
his future. To be fair, it was always explicitly stated
before the start of the campaign that the situation
would be reviewed after the first three qualifiers. They lie
fourth in Group Seven, two points adrift of Lithuania and
Serbia, although that is slightly better than it seems as
three of their rivals have already played the Faroe Islands.
France’s plight may have been slightly alleviated by
failing to win in the Faroes and there is still every
likelihood of France winning the group if rivals carry on
faltering. There are further games on Wednesday and we’ll
look at how the various qualification groups stand next week
before the tournament enters a five month break.
have no game but may be making the headlines anyway.
Domenech received some support from Thierry Henry. He
told reporters at France's training camp, "There is a point
when things need to be clear. We must end this debate. If
the coach is confirmed, then he is confirmed. You can't
confirm someone with conditions. If things were clear, it
would be easier."
And why does it matter what Monsieur Henry has to say? Henry
has been the subject of fervent internet speculation about
joining the Seattle Sounders as their designated player. His
willingness to go in front of the press and defend a
beleaguered manager may not have gone unnoticed in the
Pacific Northwest where, as I found out last week, character matters.
This acts beautifully as a segue into an interview I had
with Sounders FC General Manager Adrian Hanauer last Friday
where among other things, he spoke of the character he
expects in players who will play for him. For those of you
who don’t know Mr Hanauer, he is a football nut who owns the
recently departed USL Seattle Sounders and is now a minority
shareholder and the GM of Sounders FC, the club about to
enter Major League Soccer. Whereas the Seahawks are lending
their considerable expertise to the marketing side of
promoting soccer in the city, Hanauer, assisted by former
USA international Chris Henderson, is building a football
club, including scouting for players and selecting a
manager. Now how often do you get to talk to a guy who’s
playing ‘Fantasy Football’ for real, with real money and
What is interesting about him is that he combines two
characteristics that many of us cynics reared on the Ken
Bates of this world thought incompatible. He is passionate
about his football AND he is passionate about the business
side of it. Despite this I’m delighted to say that he hasn’t
lost his sense of humour, and in his praise for how helpful
the NFL Seattle Seahawks have been to the new arrivals in
town, he told me of his success in getting them to call the
sport ‘football’, not soccer.
“Seahawks are American football and
we’re football but I imagined being here and using
‘football’ for soccer and having them scowl at me a little
bit or something but they’re completely enthusiastic and
they’ll use football for soccer interchangeably as well.”
hazard a guess that Qwest is the first NFL citadel where
they refer to ‘football’ as ‘football’ and probably still
one of the few where they talk about it at all.
Adrian also had some kind words for the USL clubs and some
of the football people he’d see less regularly next year.
Which brings me, by way of another contrived segue, to the
Vancouver Whitecaps and its Icelandic manager, Teitur
Thordarson. In his first season at the helm at Swangard
Stadium, Thordarson lead the Whitecaps to only their second
USL Championship in 17 years.
The Caps played the Puerto Rico Islanders on Sunday in the
USL Championship game emerging victorious 2-1 in a pulsating
encounter where the sides shared three headed second half
goals. Charles Gbeke, a recent acquisition from the Montreal
Impact, scored twice as over 5000 spectators in suburban
Burnaby ran the full gamut of sporting emotions. The
Icelander told the Whitecaps website "I knew it would take
time for this team to get used to our style of playing, but
as the season went on, things came together. I'm very
pleased with the way we have won it, as we have been trying
to play an attacking style of soccer all season. … When the
season started, I didn't know what to expect of this season,
but the guys here have done a tremendous job all throughout
the campaign. I'm delighted for the players, the supporters,
and everyone at the club. It's a fantastic feeling right
Everything is indeed very rosy for the club. Apart from
winning the title, they have developed a residency scheme
which is bringing on some great young players. Randy
Edwini-Bonsu has made four substitute appearances. The name
on everyone's lips, however, is 17-year-old Alvertan Ethan
Gage. Gage has played seven games this season, including
starting berths in the Championship final and semi-final,
and looks to be a great prospect both for Vancouver and the
Canadian national team.
These Teitur-tots seem to be a guarantee of
future success at least on the field. Furthermore,
applications to become the latest entrant into MLS close
this week and the extensive youth, development and scouting
network the Whitecaps have developed would seem to
strengthen their application, as would Seattle’s need by
2011 for a local rival to give a fresh impetus to them in
their third year.
Probably Vancouver’s greatest impediments will be the lack
of a soccer specific stadium although plans were afoot to
build one in Gastown on
waterfront. That seemed to get bogged down a little in
bureaucracy so this May Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced
their intention to pursue a lease agreement in the renovated
BC Place Stadium, which is scheduled to open in early 2011.
As well as being the site of the 2010 Winter Olympics
opening and closing ceremonies, BC Place is expected to
continue as the home of the Canadian Football league B.C.
The second likely obstacle is the rival claims of Portland
and Montreal. MLS are unlikely to award both available slots
– though it would be great if they did - or indeed to
Canada. So Vancouver would have to produce a better bid than
their Quebecois rivals and the City of Portland. I did ask
Hanauer if he would be using his new found seat at the MLS
table to push for a local bid, but he insisted that he would
do what was best for the league. That’s for 2011. Right now
he has his hands full doing his best for
And I have had my hands full this week bringing you all the
latest news with my usual spin. I’ll bring you more on that
Hanauer interview and on the Whitecaps hoped for progress to
the MLS over the coming weeks. Next week, we’ll look at the
internationals played midweek and after that, I fully expect
Sounders FC will be giving us plenty to talk about.
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