We have a story in today’s paper that features Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey discussing the club’s personnel plans during the ongoing open transfer window and in light of the new MLS rules.
Here’s more from Lagerwey in a phone interview last week, and a follow-up in person this week at Starfire:
On Erik Friberg: From what I’ve seen in the couple of days he’s trained now, he’s very clean and he’s very simple. Everything is one and two touches. He has very good vision for the field, and I think he’s a player that’s really going to help us connect passes.
On the open transfer window: I appreciate the ongoing speculation. I understand why there’s so much interest. But we’ve got to be focused just on our team here in Seattle. We might ultimately do something, we might not. We’re going to look, but we’re always looking. Right now we haven’t had a great run of results. And again, we’re going to take a long-term view at what’s good for our team. But we need to be focused on the guys that are here. If that changes at some point, then it changes and we’ll adjust. But I think it’s important for us to remember now that the guys who play on the weekends are the guys who are on our team right now, and something that you read in a foreign media outlet or somebody that we made a phone call with, those are just conversations, they happen in normal course of business. It might come off and it might not.
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On what kind of player he’d be looking for: We’ve been shutout four of the last five games. We’ve struggled without Oba and Clint. I think most of the teams in the world would struggle without two strikers of that caliber. But I think we need another player that’s goal dangerous. And I think you can broadly define that as somebody coming out of midfield who can score a bunch of goals or somebody up top who can score some goals. But I think they have to be goal dangerous is some form or fashion because that’s what we’ve lacked in those guys absence.
On the MLS rules changes: It’s good for the league. I understand the temptation to always be looking at the league -- ‘What’s he doing? What’s he doing over there?’ – we’ve got to worry about our team. And our team when we had our full team was the Supporters’ Shield leaders in the league. And we need to remember that. And we have a good team. We’re going to focus what’s good for us, and I honestly don’t care what the LA Galaxy do or what the Portland Timbers do or what anybody else does. We’ve got to worry about what we have and how we are going to play, and if we do that and we get it right, then we are going to be OK.
In the simplest terms I think it’s an update of the DP rule. Previously guys over about $500,000 counted as designated players. Basicically, what this does is now the guys over a million bucks count as DPs. If gives you a little more roster flexibility, it gives you a little more money to target those guys. But it’s worth pointing out that all of those things were available in some form or fashion before: It just makes it easier.
On the Sounders’ plans: The transfer window’s open. That is at least arguably what they pay me for: to find players. … We might ultimately do something and we might not. Certainly we’re going to look, but we’re always looking. Right now we haven’t had a great run of results. We’re going to take a long-term view on what’s good for our team.
On if he is disappointed in the production of the reserve attackers who have filled in for Dempsey and Martins: We obviously hoped some other guys could step up. As I said when those guys left, we didn’t think collectively there was a one-for-one replacement on the roster. I don’t think anybody in the world does again. But could we collectively generate a little bit more offense out of midfield, out of some of the guys who didn’t play striker all the time but were now getting a chance, and that obviously hasn’t happened. You’ve got to adjust and you’ve got to react. To the broader question … I think we have very good depth. I think when you lose six players at a time, there’s always a tipping point. You need a critical mass of older, experienced players to help the younger players. And when you get past that tipping point, it becomes more challenging because the young guys lack collectively the wisdom and knowledge that they need to succeed. We’ve seen some of those struggles. To be fair I think we’ve been pretty good defensively though this whole stretch. We’ve been pretty well organized. If you look at some of our depth at that side I think we’ve been all right. Again, we just haven’t gotten the opportunities going forward and we haven’t score a ton of goals, that’s something that we need to address.
Rush for playoffs) (transfer open for aug. 6) I think those guys that played against Chicago are good players. I think they will continue to get those opportunities over the next two weeks in particular. And I hope more of the guys seize the opportunity, and if they’re not able to then we will upgrade and we will try to continue to improve our group.
More on the new MLS rules: Good thing for the league. You’re looking at $500, 000 per team times 20 teams, you’re talking about $10 million invested in new players. That can only be a good thing. … Good for the Sounders? Long-term, yeah. I don’t know if we’ll do anything this summer. We could. We might. But we’re going to do everything in the context of what’s good for us long-term. It opens up more possibilities for players to sign. It makes it easier to sign players who make between (roughly) $500,000 and a million dollars.
On how the new rules could be seen as creating a new DP slot: If you have anybody on you team who currently makes between $436,000 and $936,000 and classed as a DP, then you could open up a DP slot. So yes, that’s that.
On if some players would be reluctant to give up the prestige of a DP designation: I would say that we have to do what’s best for our team. We’re going to value the guys that we have most, because they’ve proven it and they’ve earned it. But that said, we’re going to go out do what’s best for our club.
More on the team’s wish list: The first thing I want to do is see how Erik Friberg comes in and meshes with the team. One of the reasons we got that done when we did was because we’ve added now two midfielders – Thomas and Friberg – so I think that really shores up our depth there. Our forwards certainly look different once we get Clint and Oba back, versus what we have there, but I’m going to give the folks who have been playing up top every chance to prove themselves. And if at some point we decide that we need to get a little bit better in that position, we may. But of course the trick is that when Clint and Oba come back, then whoever you bring in to address that absence is not on the field. So is there somebody else who could be on the field with Clint and Oba, and fill in for them? Maybe. And that might be something that we look at. But as you can imagine, that’s a fairly specialized player – actually, a fairly versatile player. You’re talking about a universe of guys who can play on the wing and up top – similar, to be fair, to both Barrett and Neagle. But that’s a profile we would consider.
On keeping up with the Galaxy and other teams that are making moves: I have zero interest in what the LA Galaxy does, and I never will. It may be my humble origins, but I just don’t care. I really don’t. It’s not part of our narrative. I worry about my team, and we’ve got plenty to do on our team without worrying about what someone else is going to do. We value ourselves enough where if we run a good organization the way we want to, then we will have success, and that’s what we have to believe. The Galaxy have had a ton or success and they’re worthy of our respect. But they’re a different organization than we are. We have to focus on what we do well, and if we do then we’ll be just fine.