The Sounders made a big trade Tuesday for Shalrie Joseph, an eight-time MLS All-Star who becomes the seventh designated player in team history. But Seattle might also be looking to unload one of its high-paid players soon.
One star in. One star out?
Sounders FC acquired designated player Shalrie Joseph in a big trade Tuesday with Chivas USA, but general manager Adrian Hanauer also gave strong indications that a roster-shaking departure could be made by the start of the season.
A day of mixed emotions within the fan base was highlighted by the acquisition of Joseph, an eight-time MLS All-Star. The 34-year-old Grenadian will be Seattle’s third active DP, joining midfielders Mauro Rosales and Christian Tiffert.
The Sounders also got second-round picks in the 2014 and 2015 drafts in the deal, and moved up to No. 3 in the allocation order, which could help in adding a U.S. national team player later this year.
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Chivas USA freed up a DP spot on its roster, got salary-cap relief and moved down to No. 15 in the allocation order.
Many Sounders fans were puzzled about why the team would use a coveted DP slot on Joseph, who joins his third team in six months, but Hanauer explained that it “was effectively the only way to get the deal done.”
“All in all, we’re very happy with the deal — otherwise we wouldn’t have done it,” he said.
Chivas USA, which had publicly expressed that Joseph was not a part of that team’s plans, will still assume some of the salary-cap hit.
Joseph, a core member of the New England teams that went to three straight MLS Cups (2005-07), becomes the Sounders’ seventh DP in franchise history. The 10-year veteran — who has played as a forward, midfielder and defender — was a surprise visitor to preseason camp here earlier this month, though coach Sigi Schmid made it seem like an eventual deal was unlikely.
Now, while Seattle has the maximum three active DPs, things might not stay that way.
Hanauer gave multiple indications on a conference call Tuesday that the team is considering buying out a DP’s contract before the March 2 deadline (when the MLS season opens).
A likely candidate for an exit is Tiffert, who arrived last summer from Germany. The 31-year-old has been recovering in the Seattle area from an unspecified injury instead of accompanying the team to Tucson, Ariz., according to the last update from Schmid.
The Sounders have bought out a DP contract before (Blaise Nkufo, before the 2011 season) and recently loaned out DP forward Fredy Montero to Colombia’s Millonarios for the year.
Seattle has admittedly been in the market for a big-name, game-changing DP forward for several months. That strategy hasn’t changed, according to Hanauer, even if it would require a subtraction.
“Players of that ilk, that are checking the boxes that we want checked, are not a dime a dozen,” he said. “So that’s not to say that we don’t have some in our cross hairs, but sometimes good things take time.”
Could that be Javier Saviola? Or Obafemi Martins? Recent reports have the Sounders linked to the experienced forwards.
Hanauer called Saviola “a fantastic player” who the team rates highly, but another MLS team has the discovery rights to the 31-year-old and there are no ongoing talks.
One imminent addition is defender Djimi Traore, a 32-year-old veteran who played for Liverpool and joined the Sounders’ preseason camp earlier this month.
Hanauer said there is “a high likelihood” that Traore will sign.
The possibility of more changes leaves the Sounders unsettled entering the season. Important quarterfinal games in the CONCACAF Champions League are March 6 and 12 against Tigres UANL, the top team in Mexico.
“Our big goal is MLS Cup,” Hanauer said, “and so we were willing to sacrifice a little bit on the front end (of our schedule) to make sure that we had things sorted come the summer as we head into the playoff hunt and hopefully track down an MLS Cup.”
• Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson said on Twitter that the team has signed Mikael Silvestre barring any complications getting a visa. The Sounders would be due compensation since they were first to place a discovery claim on the veteran defender.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @joshuamayers