Sounders Insider

Hanauer defends Sounders' failed Open Cup bid

Sounders FC general manager Adrian Hanauer said the club did right by its fans in making "a very aggressive bid" to host the U.S. Open Cup final -- two or three times what other clubs have bid.

The bid was so solid, in fact, that Hanauer belives U.S. Soccer should do some explaining about how D.C. United and RFK Stadium were selected over Seattle and Qwest Field.

"I'd be lying if I didn't say I was frustrated and somewhat skeptical of the process," Hanauer said. "I don't think D.C. has played a game in the Open Cup on the road in two years. They had a road through all lower-division teams to get to the Open Cup Final. I'm not in the know … enough to be able to raise any real issues, but I'm frustrated and I wish U.S. Soccer would explain why one bid wins over another."

So, I made a couple of calls to U.S. Soccer. One spokesman said that bid process "takes in all factors" -- presumably meaning the highest bid doesn't necessarily win -- and another promised to check on some of Hanauer's questions and get back to me Thursday.

"Our fans deserve some answers," Hanauer said. "And, by the way, U.S. Soccer has been trying to raise the profile of the U.S. Open Cup. A game in front of 10,000 fans at RFK I don't believe is going to raise the profile as much as a game in front of a sold-out Qwest Field."

D.C. United won the 2008 cup in front of a home crowd of 8,212.

Now, they'll host again on Sept. 2, as the Sounders fly cross country to play for their first trophy.

And if Hanauer wasn't happy with U.S. Soccer, he was no happier with the parade of MLS coaches who have complained about the turf at Starfire -- the latest of whom was Houston coach Dominic Kinnear after the Dynamo's 2-1 loss to the Sounders last night.

"I think we need to stop playing on synthetic surfaces," Kinnear said. "I give the crowd a ton of credit: It is a great atmosphere. But all the superficial stuff is below what these guys should be playing on. … We have a guy (Brian Mullan) who has a possible fractured ankle because he gets caught in the turf."

Hanauer said after practice today -- at Starfire -- that replacing the turf is "a possibility." He noted that Sounders FC does not own the complex, but that the club and Starfire regularly discuss ways to make it better.

"At some point we might together decide that that's a good idea, but it's not going to be because opposing MLS coaches don't like it," he said. "It would be because it makes sense for the tournament, for Starfire, for the Sounders and all the more pertinent parties involved."

I'll have more on all of this in the Thursday paper.

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