A day before the MLS SuperDraft, Sounders FC moved five spots up the draft order as part of a trade Wednesday that sent veteran defenders Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Patrick Ianni to the Chicago Fire in exchange for defender Jalil Anibaba.
In the deal, Seattle acquired the No. 8 overall pick in Thursday’s draft — and a conditional third-round pick in 2015 — while sending the No. 13 pick to Chicago. The Sounders also cleared up about $200,000 in salary-cap space.
Anibaba, 25, started 93 of 96 MLS games with the Fire after being selected with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2011 draft. He had trained with the Sounders in the summer before his senior season of college at North Carolina.
“Jalil is a center back who has tremendous upside,” said Sounders coach Sigi Schmid in a news release. “…We expect him to contribute right away.”
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Hurtado and Ianni were among five “original” MLS Sounders who had been with the franchise since its inaugural game in 2009.
Seattle’s focus will shift to the future in the four-round SuperDraft, which is split into two days and starts at 9 a.m. Thursday. The Sounders could be looking to add a center back and/or midfield depth, according to assistant coach and scout Kurt Schmid.
This draft class doesn’t have the difference-makers of years past, but there are “a lot of solid players,” Kurt Schmid said. He added the lack of top-end talent is in part due to the homegrown rule, which allows MLS teams to sign standouts directly out of college if they came up through their youth-development program.
The Sounders have been involved in several rumors recently, including possibly signing former MLS midfielder Marco Pappa with the No. 2 spot in the MLS allocation order, according to Goal.com. Pappa played for the Chicago Fire from 2008 to 2012, collecting 26 goals and 16 assists, before being sold to Dutch club SC Heerenveen.
The Sounders acquired the No. 2 spot in the order in a December trade with Chivas USA. Philadelphia is at No. 1 and hoping to sign U.S. international Maurice Edu, according to multiple reports.
Elsewhere, Seattle is in pursuit of defender Steffen Hagen, captain of Norwegian club Odds BK, according to Norwegian newspaper Telemarksavisa.
Lastly, Getafe, a first-division team in Spain, could be targeting Seattle forward Obafemi Martins, according to Spanish newspaper Marca.