A few minutes after the Seattle Sounders’ season-ending 1-0 loss to Houston today, I asked coach Sigi Schmid when he will start planning for 2010.
“Three or four minutes ago,” he said. “Next year begins now. You don’t stop coaching. You learn from things that happened today. … We’ll feed off of it, and we’ll be a better team because of this.”
General manager Adrian Hanauer started thinking about next season even earlier. He said that he and technical director Chris Henderson have jobs that demand 365 days of planning to improve the club.
One immediate task facing Hanauer and the Sounders is deciding on the players they will protect in the Philadelphia Union’s expansion draft at the end of this month.
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Then there will be the possible issue of Freddie Ljungberg and the continuing speculation that the attacking midfielder could return to Europe, where he had played the previous 10 season.
“I love it here,” Ljungberg said. “We’ll see what we’re going to decide. I said I’ll talk to my agent after the playoffs, and unfortunately now it’s after the playoffs. But like I said, I love it in Seattle and hopefully I’ll be back next season.”
Ljungberg is halfway through a two-year contract with Seattle, but he could join another club on loan or through some other arrangement with the Sounders. Hanauer has said he won’t agree to anything that he doesn’t believe is in his club’s best interest.
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Kasey Keller has been clear about his intention to return for a second season. However, the status and intentions of Fredy Montero are less certain. And various other Sounders on one-year contracts expressed their hope to return.
Obviously, we will look more closely at all of this in the coming days, weeks and months.