Sounders FC has taken a big step toward making a major midseason addition.
The team unexpectedly announced Thursday it has agreed to a new contract with Shalrie Joseph, and while terms were not disclosed, the veteran midfielder will no longer count as a designated player.
As a result, Seattle has an open DP slot and a week to sign a world-class player for an MLS Cup run. The summer transfer window, a monthlong period during which teams can sign players from international leagues, closes Aug. 8.
Only a portion of a DP’s salary counts against the $2.95 million cap, and notable players under the rule (past and present) include David Beckham, Thierry Henry and Landon Donovan. A midseason DP charge is $175,000, even if the player has a multimillion-dollar salary.
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Joseph’s contract restructuring was just the latest in the series of moves leading up to an addition or two. Seattle opened an international roster slot and cap space by cutting defender Ashani Fairclough and forward Sammy Ochoa during the past five weeks.
General manager Adrian Hanauer said last week the team was “actively pursuing a couple of different angles.”
Coach Sigi Schmid told 950 KJR-AM Thursday the Sounders are looking to fill their vacant DP slot with “either a midfielder or somebody who can play attacking, second-striker type of thing — definitely somebody in the middle of the field.”
MLS teams are allowed three DPs on the active roster, and Seattle’s two are forward Obafemi Martins and midfielder Mauro Rosales.
There were rumors floated on Twitter, namely by FOX Soccer host Keith Costigan, that the Sounders are interested in the seemingly outlandish idea of bringing U.S. national team star Clint Dempsey to Seattle.
Dempsey, who played in MLS from 2004-06, is under contract with Tottenham in the English Premier League following the team’s fifth-place finish last season.
Schmid addressed the rumors in his radio interview: “We’re always interested in good players, first off and foremost. That’s the No. 1 thing our fans need to know: We’re always interested in good players. But right now, there’s really nothing to it. There’s nothing to say.”
The coach added that, as far as he knows, the Sounders haven’t been in contact with Dempsey or his representatives. Schmid didn’t quash the idea completely, though, saying “you can never close the door on anything.”
• Sounders FC’s Brad Evans was knighted by Seafair representatives after Thursday’s practice and deemed “Prince of the Pitch.”
The midfielder will be involved in a number of events this weekend, including waving the checkered flag at the hydroplane races and judging the wakeboarding competition.
“It’ll be cool,” said Evans.
• Goalkeepers Michael Gspurning (forearm) and Marcus Hahnemann (hamstring) have been ruled out of Saturday’s home game, according to the team’s injury report.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @joshuamayers