Sounders FC, for the second time in three years, announced the parting of ways with a designated player just hours before kickoff to opening...
Sounders FC, for the second time in three years, announced the parting of ways with a designated player just hours before kickoff to opening day.
This time the news — the buyout of midfielder Christian Tiffert — was expected.
The 31-year-old German hadn’t been in preseason training camp for the past several weeks, and general manager Adrian Hanauer indicated multiple times the team was specifically considering a contract buyout. Saturday was the deadline for such a move.
The move opens up a DP slot on Seattle’s roster, which is expected to be filled (perhaps next week) by Nigerian forward Obafemi Martins, who played 34 minutes for Levante UD in Saturday’s 2-2 tie in the Spanish league against crosstown rival Valencia.
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Coach Sigi Schmid said Tiffert didn’t underperform with the Sounders but that the team’s financial state regarding the salary cap meant the team had to get rid of a DP to make room for Martins.
“I thought Christian did well for us,” Schmid said.
Added general manager Adrian Hanauer: “This was not an issue of Christian not performing or being a good teammate. I read something of Sigi and him having a falling out, which is just absolutely, categorically untrue. It was just a situational thing with the cap and where we thought we needed to invest big designated-player dollars.”
Hanauer added team’s shift in DP strategy in the offseason — spending more for one or two world-class stars — was a factor, but that “anytime you buy out a player, you probably have to admit some sort of flaw in the plan.”
Tiffert had the shortest tenure of any Sounders DP at seven months, six days. The previous shortest was Blaise Nkufo — who was bought out before the 2011 season — at one year and 11 days. Nkufo, though, joined the team several months after his signing and was only active for seven months and 26 days.
Seattle will be without its top-paid forward (Fredy Montero, loaned to Colombia’s Millonarios for 2013), midfielder (Tiffert) and defender Jeff Parke (traded to Philadelphia) from last season.
Tiffert, according to an international report from Germany, is expected to return to home in Germany and try to find a new team over the summer.
“There’s a little delay but I’m optimistic everything will be resolved soon,” Martins told BBC Sport.
“It is only a minor misunderstanding. Hopefully we can sort it out by Monday.”
Hanauer said the Martins pursuit is not any less likely despite the recent news out of Spain. The deadline for a move is May 6, when the MLS transfer window closes.
• Sounders FC has a Week 2 bye in MLS to focus on a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series against Tigres UANL, one of the top team’s in Mexico, on Wednesday (road) and March 12 (home). Seattle resumes MLS action at home on March 16 against rival Portland.
• Two Sounders were suspended for Saturday’s game: midfielder Osvaldo Alonso, for a red card after last year’s playoff finale, and defender Marc Burch, who completed a three-game suspension for his use of a gay slur in the 2012 postseason.