Sounders Insider

Sounders roundup: National team guys, Xbox, reserves

The Sounders have concluded another day of training in advance of their top-of-the-table home match with RSL on Friday.

Some notes:

* Coach Sigi Schmid said that Eddie Johnson's head bump in the win over Mexico last night does not call for a concussion protocol, and that EJ and Clint Dempsey are scheduled to return today, train tomorrow, and could be available Friday.

"(Eddie) is fine," Schmid said. "Him and Clint are both flying back today. In fact, they’re on the same flight as Chris Henderson. They both say they feel pretty good, but we’ll see how they feel tomorrow. … I don’t think (the U.S. Soccer trainer) classified it as a concussion. I think they said more right now it’s just a sore neck, and Eddie said he felt fine today."

Schmid on other injury updates: "We’ll see (about BradEvans). It’s still sort of a day-to-day thing. He did more today. We’re trying to be careful with him. If he can play Friday we can certainly use him. We’d love to have him out there, but we don’t want to do anything to jeopardize the next game by trying to push him out too early on Friday. ... (Shalrie Joseph’s recovery) is going a little bit slow right now. He’s making progress. He’s starting to run on the treadmill, but it’s still a little bit away."

* General manager Adrian Hanauer said Xbox is the perfect partner for the organization, and said he hopes the jersey sponsorship that has been extended through next season will continue well beyound that.

"We’re very happy," Hanauer said. "It’s been a fantastic partnership. We’re excited to extend for a year, and hopefully this leads to something even longer-term. … We wanted to explore the marketplace, but at the same time we always wanted to be with Xbox and with Microsoft. They’re the perfect partner. We stayed in contact and ultimately it made sense for both parties -- at least on a short-term basis – and again, hopefully we can figure something out long-term from here."

* Hanauer also said the club is planning to continue with an MLS Reserve League team through next year, and then operate a USL-Pro team starting in 2015. Hanauer said the added season will allow the club to get the USL-Pro team off to a good launch including perhaps some stadium and other infrastructure improvements at Starfire Sports Complex.

"No definitive decision," Hanauer said. "I would say we’re leaning towards staying in the reserve league this next year and doing USL-Pro the following year. And the reason for that is we want to make sure our infrastructure is in place, we have everything aligned, prepared so when we do launch a USL-Pro franchise that we launch it with as much preparation and expertise and gusto as we did the MLS franchise. Maybe that’s a little bit of an exaggeration, but we want to do it right, long story short. And we don’t feel like we quite have all the pieces in place to do it right."

On site and operation of eventual USL-Pro team: We’re still open to being outside of Starfire and we still haven’t locked in anything at Starfire. It’s where we’re leaning right now. Right now we’re leaning toward operating it ourselves, but that could change. That’s all part of giving it some time and letting it marinate and have conversations with other interested potential partners.

On possible improvements to Starfire and its stadium: It’s something that we talk about a lot as we dream about what this facility can be. It’s obviously already a fantastic home for us, but I’d be lying if I said in a dream scenario there wouldn’t be some additions."

Hanauer added that those additions could include separate lockers for the USL-Pro team, improvements for the academy program, and maybe some more bleachers to increase stadium seating. He said parking is not optimal but sufficient.

Beyond infrastructure, he said the club also wants to take further time to get things right with regard to USL-Pro team issues such as coaching and training staffs, equipment, and of course players -- some of whom would likely graduate from the Sounders academy.