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Mr. Soccer seeks new challenges

A-League's all-time winningest coach Alan Hinton steps aside as Sounder coach to start his own business venture and devote more time to his family.

After bringing Seattle its first professional sports championship in 16 years, Alan Hinton announced today from Sounder headquarters that he will step aside as the team's head coach, remaining a member of the franchise's board of directors. The 53-year old Hinton will concentrate on expanding opportunities for talented youth soccer players, which include the Crossfire Sounders, his successful U-17 boys soccer team - winners of three of the past four Washington State titles.

"My mission was to bring the Seattle Sounders and professional soccer back to the Puget Sound region. To win the A-League Championship last season was also a great thrill. In the last two and a half years, I have accomplished what I set out to achieve and I'm a happy man," said Hinton, who in 12 seasons as a professional soccer coach amassed over 200 victories, including a 37-14 mark with the A-League Sounders. "I really want to thank the owners Scott Oki and Neil Farnsworth for providing the finances to make this dream possible. I also want to thank the front office and all the fans."

Hinton expressed special admiration for his players.

"I especially want to thank my players for the wonderful support they have given to me the last two seasons," said Hinton. "I wish the 15 local (Sounder) players all the best as they continue the winning tradition of the Seattle Sounders."

Affectionately known as "Mr. Soccer" in the state of Washington, Hinton is planning to start his own business that financially assists young talented soccer players.

"I plan to start a business that benefits young soccer players and raises funds to give scholarships to potential players who don't have the available funds," said Hinton. "There are many talented kids that don't have the money and I want to help them fulfill their dreams to play in college, professional teams, national teams and even World Cup play."

Sounders' principal owner, Scott Oki, was surprised by Hinton's decision.

"As a community, we are deeply indebted to Alan. His passion for the game and the Seattle Sounders organization is unparalleled," said Oki in a prepared statement. "This man almost single-handedly resurrected pro soccer in Seattle and delivered this city a championship. That is quite an accomplishment."

Recently appointed Managing Director Tor Taylor, who organized the historic Kobe Relief Fund Soccer Match last November at Memorial Stadium, echoed Oki's sentiments.

"I personally have deep feelings for Alan Hinton," said Taylor. "I admire him very much. He has done an outstanding job for this organization and community. Filling his shoes will be a big task that we will have to focus on immediately."

Neil Farnsworth, a club director and minority owner, also recognized Hinton's accomplishments with the Sounders.

"Alan has coached my son's team for the last five years and while I know Alan loved coaching the (A-League) Sounders and was instrumental in bringing the team to the high level it enjoys now, Alan's passion for seeing the Crossfire Sounders through to college has never wavered," said Farnsworth. "I am very impressed, gratified and much appreciative of his dedication to 'his' kids."

Hinton will assist in the search for his successor in addition to spending more time with his family.

Said Hinton, "I have many other things I want to accomplish and I really want my Crossfire boys to all get college scholarships."

Thanks to Ron Stickney for transcribing the press release.

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