Sounders Insider

Sounders owner speaks on his team, MLS, All-Star game, TV and 'the best midfield in the league'

Sounders FC majority owner Joe Roth watched the Sounders train today at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.

Afterward he spoke a while with the guys who cover the team.

Here are some highlight:

Why are you here?JR: I wanted to see the guys. First time out banging with each other. And we have our quarterly business meeting, so go sit in an office for four hours.

What are your impressions of the off-season?JR: I think we’ve been more aggressive this year than the last three years: Nine players have left from last season. I was really happy with the move we made in Scandinavia between Sivebaek and Johansson. The kid from Trinidad looks pretty good. The two rookies look good. So I’m happy about it. Of course, brand new day with a brand new goalie.

How is the league doing?JR: Things are going well, there’s no question about it. Since Toronto came into the league really: Toronto, Philly, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver and now Montreal, it’s like it’s all going in the right direction.

On changes he'd like to see:JR: There’s so many things I’d like to see done you don’t have enough tape in your recorder, but the league knows that. Obviously I would like to see the salary cap go up. I’d like to be able to keep a core group of players. When I was growing up in New York you never saw players traded. Players played an entire generation for the Yankees, the Dodgers, the football Giants. That’s a missing component in today’s sports, where you can’t keep track of where the players are going. Anything we can do to do that. Personally I’d like to figure out how to get more people to watch television. For me, I think the biggest complaint coming from my normal job is that I wish we did a better job of covering the game on television. I watch the EPL and I watch Queens Park Rangers, why can’t we show a game like that where you see all the players and also see the action on the field. We seem to be stuck with seeing 11-on-11 and that’s all we know, and then when they cut into a closeup we have no idea what’s going on on the field. So I wish we could do better with that.

Q: On the All-Star game being awarded to Philadelphia and the possibility of it coming to Seattle: JR: I think it helps the teams that can use the help, although Philly’s doing quite well. And I think that the fan base here has show us – whether it’s exhibitions or all-star games – they’d rather see us play in competition. We’re here for the fans, so I’d rather do it that way. It doesn’t really serve us to go out and say, ‘Gee, we should play the championship game here” – and now of course, finally after a few years, they’re going to put the championship game with the team that actually played the best during the season.

On improvements to the 2012 Sounder: JR: I think there’s more depth in the midfield for sure. There’s a little more depth in the back. I think it will be a challenge as always: Who’s going to play that right forward spot? I don’t have the faintest idea. It’s always interesting. Kind of a rotation it seems like. (Sigi) is actually a very methodical coach. He’s really good. We get better every year. And I can tell this year that we have the depth to get better. I still feel we have the best midfield in the league as it is. There will be some real competition for those spots.

On if there is frustration about the playoff losses:JR: No. We do get better. It’s hard to complain. I don’t like the playoff system much and never have. Keep trying them to do it completely on merit. Getting closer. And I think we’ll have a good run this year – I do, I like our depth. So much depends to me as an owner on how effective Zakuani can be and how quickly he can come back.

On the future of general manager Adrian Hanauer:JR: I don’t think it’s on my mind today, but it’s something we talk about. Maybe sometime in the next couple of years. Or who know? He may get voted out this year. I’m going to start an anonymous campaign for somebody from ECS to take his spot.

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