Sounders winger Victor Rodriguez and defender Roman Torres headlined the club’s list of unprotected players for the MLS expansion draft next week.
Nashville SC and Inter Miami will bump the league to 26 teams as they join for the 2020 season. The two clubs will select five players each Tuesday.
MLS teams can protect 12 players. Generation Adidas and Homegrown Players (born in or after 1994), such as Sounders forward Jordan Morris (age 25) and midfielder Danny Leyva (16), are exempt from selection.
While big names, Rodriguez and Torres likely were not going to be re-signed by the Sounders.
Rodriguez was named MVP for his performance during Seattle’s MLS Cup win against Toronto FC on Nov. 10. But despite his goal in the 76th minute of the 3-1 win at CenturyLink Field, he’s had an inconsistent season because of a hamstring injury and a concussion.
Multiple reports state that Rodriguez, whom the Sounders signed in 2017, wants to return to Spain. The 30-year-old had a base salary of $1.1 million this season, according to the MLS Players Association.
Torres had the most significant contributions of his five-year stint with the Sounders despite past injuries and a 10-match suspension this season. The 33-year-old scored the winning goal against Minnesota United FC on “Decision Day” to secure home-field advantage through the Western Conference semifinals. Torres had an 80% passing accuracy on 51 touches against the Reds for the championship.
The Panamanian, who had the 2016 title-clinching penalty kick against Toronto, has again been rumored to return to his Colombian club, Millonarios FC. The side is transitioning its front office and has not released any information. Torres’ possible departure clears $750,000 from Seattle’s salary cap.
The Sounders also left touted midfielder Emanuel Cecchini unprotected along with winger Harry Shipp, who was in the club’s lineup for the MLS Cup final. Veteran forward Will Bruin and defender Saad Abdul-Salaam round out the players who had significant roles in getting the Sounders to the postseason who are available to draft.
Cecchini’s inclusion on the list is surprising. The Argentine was regarded as the future in the midfield when he signed in August. He was the fourth-highest paid player on the Sounders’ roster at $789,000 this year, but he only appeared in four games with one start, totaling 155 minutes and two shots on goal.
Bruin, who scored two goals in a win against Toronto FC during the regular season, suffered a season-ending knee injury in June. He underwent surgery in July and recently was able to do some workouts with the Sounders as they prepared for the MLS championship.
The Sounders also left little-used midfielder Alex Roldan, the younger brother of Cristian, and keeper Bryan Meredith unprotected. Late-season signees in defender Justin Dhillon and forwards Jonathan Campbell and Luis Silva along with defender Chad Marshall, who retired in May, are also available for the expansion draft.
Players for the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Houston Dynamo, New York Red Bulls, FC Dallas, and D.C. United are unavailable due to those clubs having players selected in last season’s expansion draft.
Svensson expected to return
The Sounders have multiple players whose contract options will be decided this offseason. The club is expected to make those announcements next week, but defensive midfielder Gustav Svensson told Swedish media outlets he plans to return.
Svensson, who had two assists against Toronto in the MLS Cup final, was called-up by his Swedish national team and helped them qualify for UEFA Euro 2020 on Friday. Svensson told reporters gathered for the match that he was courted by his native IFK Gothenburg team to return but said communication dropped off as Seattle began its postseason run.
Given the 32-year-old was protected by the Sounders for the expansion draft, it is likely the Sounders plan to extend his contract. Svensson originally signed with Seattle in January 2017.
“I am very happy that there will be another year over there,” Svensson said to GT, a western Sweden evening newspaper, as interpreted by Google Translate.