Sounders majority owner Joe Roth likes general manager and minority owner Andrian Hanauner. He clearly believes Hanauer deserves a vote of confidence from the fans when their up or down vote on the GM begins Sunday.
But even at that, Roth recently refused to lobby on Hanauer's behalf, saying to decision is up to the fans and the fans deserve to know their opinion is being fairly noted.
"We have to be neutral in this," Roth said. "It’s totally up to the fans. ... Everybody knows how I feel about Adrian, but I think the team shouldn’t give an endorsement. I think leave it for the fans."
More from Roth:
On what he likes about the idea: "(I believe) why wouldn't you want a general manager starting his fourth year to make sure you have a really good year. Why wouldn't want that? It’s like a player, playing in his contract year. He has incentive. I think it keeps everybody on their toes. It’s also what we promised, along with the council, and listening to ideas and the seating naming of the team: It’s all worked out well by turning it over to the fans."
Roth added that he will remain a supporter of the concept even if Hanauer is voted out: "Of course. You’ve got to go both ways. I told Adrian, 'If you don’t make the playoffs, I’d start losing sleep if I were you."
However, he doesn't seem to think Hanauer needs to lose any sleep: We’ve been around for four years and we’ve made the playoffs for four years. Also, there’s no opposition. He’s not running against Mitt Romney or something. The idea is it would be easier I think to decide if you want to vote him out, if you had a (known replacement).
If Hanauer actually were voted out, he not only would remain part owner of the team, but Roth said he also would probably be involved in the selection of the next GM, along with Roth, Drew Carey and "to some extent" coach Sigi Schmid.
And the next GM apparently would have a job description much like Hanauers, as Roth said he is against combining duties such as GM and coach.
"I’m not a fan of it," he said. "I think they’re very very different positions. They did if up here with (Mike Holmgren and the Seahawks), and ownership was unhappy about it. … To me they’re two very different jobs. Adrian and (technical director Chris Henderson), they are on the phone day in and day out, night and day, looking for players everywhere in the world. Unlike other American sports, there are players everywhere in the world. I can’t imagine the coach would have the time to really scout, go through all those tapes, be on the phone negotiating trades. About the trades, a lot of the reason the team is as good as it is – without trying to campaign – is a lot of the trades that we didn’t do – a lot of the opportunities that came up both foreign and domestic, that we didn’t do."