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Goals won't be problem, GM claims

Sounders FC is going to score a pile of goals this season.

That is the promise general manager Adrian Hanauer made Tuesday to fans concerned about the club’s inability to score in its home loss to New York on Saturday.

“The one thing I can guarantee is that we are going to get it right,” Hanauer said after watching the Sounders train at Starfire Sports Complex. “One way or another, it’s going to get right. Whether that means moving players positionally, or bringing someone in, moving someone out, it’s going to happen. We’re going to score a pile of goals, whether in the present configuration, or in the summer, or whatever moves we need to make to get it right.”

For some, the Sounders’ first loss of the season looked distressingly similar to many from last season. Seattle controlled the run of play and had the best chances, but none reached the back of the net in the 1-0 loss.

“I have always said to the team, the difference between winning and losing is not huge,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said Tuesday. “It’s a little thing. So if (Steve) Zakuani’s shot is hit a little higher, maybe (goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul) doesn’t get it. If it’s a little more in the corner, maybe he doesn’t get it. If (Osvaldo) Alonso’s shot was a little more to Bouna’s right, maybe it goes in. (Brad) Evans same thing. If Freddie (Ljungberg) does better with his header. ... So, the difference between winning and losing are the small things.”

However, such little things cost the Sounders dearly last season, when they led Major League Soccer in goals allowed but were eighth in goals scored.

And it ended their season when one goal allowed to the Houston Dynamo over 210 playoff minutes proved to be one too many, because the Sounders were unable to score at all.

Despite that clear and costly problem, the Sounders made only one significant offseason move to improve their offense: signing Swiss forward Blaise Nkufo, who will join the club in mid-July.

Hanauer discussed the club’s thinking in this interview (some answers edited for length or clarity):

Q: Did you do enough over the offseason to improve the offense?

A: “Only if we score more goals. Obviously the proof is in the pudding. To date, we had a good opening game: We scored a couple of goals, a couple of good goals. But we didn’t versus New York. So I think the jury’s still out.”

Q: Did you intend to bring in more new faces, or did you believe the existing players deserved another chance?

A: “We still feel that this group being together another year will get even better; that regardless of what we did in the offseason in terms of acquisitions, we were going to score more goals this year. Again, the proof will be if we do or not.

“It’s easy to talk about bringing players in. When you bring players in, some players are going to go out. We have a salary cap. The idea is to get it right, but there are a lot of teams that make a lot of moves that don’t get it right. They end up not as good as they were before. They made a bunch of moves, maybe the fans are happy because they made a move, but now they’re not as good. So that was one thing we didn’t want to do: just make moves for the sake of making moves.

“Nkufo was definitely a target of ours, and we were very hopeful that we could actually bring him for the beginning of the season. That was our original objective, which I think would have been good. As it turns out, we’re not going to be able to bring him in until midseason.

“There are certainly players in our league who we were interested in. But the problem is that other teams who have the type of player that we might have been looking for – who has had a lot of success in the league – they don’t really want to give them up. So we weren’t willing to tear apart our team to get one guy. To give up three starters for one guy may fill the bill at that position, but now we’ve just made ourselves weaker at two other positions.”

Injury update

Midfielder Brad Evans was helped off the pitch Tuesday with an apparent knee problem. Schmid called it “a weird thing” that Evans has experienced annually for several seasons. He added that doctors haven’t seen the need for surgery because the knee always unlocks naturally. The club announced later that Evans is expected to be available when the Sounders return to training Thursday. ... Forward Nate Jaqua, who is on the injured list because of a lingering pubic symphysis injury, was in Philadelphia on Tuesday to be examined by a specialist.

Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com

blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer

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