Sounders Insider

Another friendly likely next season ... and maybe an MLS All-Star Game someday

On if the Sounders are interested in bringing an MLS All-Star Game to Seattle: Certainly it’s possible. We’ve discussed it. When we hosted MLS Cup we assumed we would go to the bottom of the list for the foreseeable future. Lot of new franchises, lot of new stadiums, and a lot of demand for those games. After every All-Star Game we get together and talk about whether it is something we want to take on. It’s certainly not profitable. It’s a lot of work, a lot of energy going into a period where we like to be focusing on the team and the stretch run. But for sure, seeing what I saw in Portland, fans enjoyed it, Portland did a fantastic job: Merritt and the whole organization were brilliant in terms of the energy procided to the city. Certainly it gets the wheels turning. But I anticipate with all the expansion that’s coming it’s going to be a heavy lift to get an All-Star Game anytime in the near future.

On if another international friendly is likely next season: I think we are inclined to do it again. I think we enjoyed the experience. There are negatives and positives to everything, but on balance we think it’s positive. The way the schedule worked, it was acatually pretty good for us to fit a game in there, keep the rhytym. Tottenham were fantastic to work with. It sold well, which indicated to us that our fans – though there are some that fight against friendlies and swear that they’re terrible for the club and we shouldn’t be doing it – the numbers of people that show up would counter that small loud minority. So with all those things sort of put together I think it’s likely that we’ll continue for the foreseeable future. If fixture congestion – if Champions League, for instance, became an issue – there’s potential we could change our minds. But part of this year for sure was knowing we had no Champions League. And part of it, I guess last year we had very few games, given early elimination from Open Cup, no Champions League, quite early exit from the playoffs. Guys like to play games, so we want to make sure that they’ve got enough.

Finally, just his general impressions on MLS president Mark Abbott's midseason report on the league in which he said the 34-game season and basic league structure will remain in place next season even as Orlando/New York expansion brings the league to 21 teams: I like the direction we’re going, personally. I like two conferences. I like picking up extra games in conference will a little less travel – it provides more training days for the players. I like our playoff system, albeit not perfect – never will be. I like 34 games. The fact that it’s unbalanced I just don’t see any way around that. I like the direction we’re going, and certainly when I don’t, when I have criticism, I have my opportunity through the competition committee and the board of governors to voice that. But I think a lot of things are going right with MLS right now. Sometimes it’s my opinion that we’ve changed things for the sake of change at times in the past, so I’m actually one that prefers a little consistency.

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