The Major League Soccer offseason calendar stops for no team's championship celebrations.
The Major League Soccer offseason calendar stops for no team’s championship celebrations.
With protected player lists due out for Tuesday’s Expansion Draft, the Sounders announced Monday morning the club’s decision to decline the contract options of 13 players — including veterans Nelson Valdez, Andreas Ivanschitz, Erik Friberg and Tyrone Mears, all of whom played sizable roles in the team’s run to its first MLS Cup.
It’s worth noting that some of that group could very well be back in 2017 under renegotiated deals. Zach Scott, who retired on top in the wake of the team’s triumph in Toronto on Saturday night, had his contract declined after last season but ended up back on the roster by training camp.
Here is the full list of Sounders with declined contracts: Oalex Anderson, Michael Farfan, Friberg, Herculez Gomez, Ivanschitz, Darwin Jones, Damion Lowe, Charlie Lyon, Mears, Jimmy Ockford, Dylan Remick, Nathan Sturgis and Valdez.
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Valdez wants to come back to Seattle, he made clear in the locker room following Saturday’s match, but would have to take a massive pay cut from the $1.45 million he banked in 2016 as a Designated Player. At older than 30 years old having both made more than $200,000 last year, neither Friberg or Ivanschitz exactly meshes with general manager Garth Lagerwey’s vision of a younger, leaner roster going forward.
Have fun at the championship parade, guys! (Details on that, by the way, are also expected later on Monday).
“I want to start by saying thank you to all of the players from our 2016 MLS Cup champions roster. Keeping this team together will be a work in progress, as roster constraints prevent us from retaining all of our deserving players,” Lagerwey said in the release. “Conversations with several players are ongoing, and we will do our best to build a roster to defend our title next season.”
The following players had their contracts picked up, Monday’s team announcement confirmed: goalkeeper Tyler Miller, defenders Tony Alfaro, Oniel Fisher, Joevin Jones and Román Torres, midfielders Brad Evans and Aaron Kovar, and forward Victor Mansaray.
And the rest were on deals that already ran through 2017: goalkeeper Stefan Frei, defender Chad Marshall, midfielders Osvaldo Alonso, Nicolás Lodeiro, Alvaro Fernandez and Cristian Roldan, as well as forwards Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris.
Despite having been retained, both Fernandez and Fisher were left off the team’s 11-player protected list ahead of the Expansion Draft and could be headed for Atlanta or Minnesota by midday tomorrow. The rest of the returnees are exempt and cannot by selected by either expansion franchise.
Below are the key dates of the MLS offseason to keep in mind before preseason camp opens in late January:
Roster decisions released, including Expansion Draft protection list and eligible free agents.
Expansion Draft. Free agents will begin negotiations with all MLS clubs.
List of eligible players for Waiver Draft released.
Re-entry Draft, Stage 1.
Re-entry Draft, Stage 2.
MLS Player Combine
MLS pre-season begins