Sounders FC has loaned forward Eriq Zavaleta, the team’s top draft pick last year, to Chivas USA for the 2014 season.
Zavaleta won’t be allowed to play against Seattle, per MLS rules regarding intraleague loans. The 21-year-old played just 31 minutes in 2013 after the Sounders traded up to draft the Indiana product 10th overall.
The deal marks just the second usage of a new rule allowing loans within the league — something designed to get young prospects more playing time. The only other instance came in January, when Colorado sent defender Tony Cascio to Houston.
Zavaleta’s loan leaves five potential roster spots open, including the expected trade or buyout of Shalrie Joseph, a veteran midfielder who is signed but hasn’t been with the team all preseason.
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Six unsigned players remain in training camp, meaning several look set to make the team ahead of a March 8 opener against Sporting Kansas City. Those players in pursuit of a contract are draft pick Fabio Pereira and invitees Michael Azira, Kevin Parsemain, former Mexican international Gonzalo Pineda, John Arroyo and Kent native Cam Weaver.
• Sounders FC will play a 60-minute scrimmage against Coastal Carolina University at 7 a.m. Saturday ahead of the Carolina Challenge Cup finale at 2 p.m. against D.C. United. Seattle and D.C. are 1-0-1 in the tourney.