In the face of a conference semifinal exit, Seattle’s front office could either go drastic – burning the roster’s framework to the ground – or hold tight like it did last offseason, giving an aging core one last crack at the MLS Cup.

Share story

Following their early playoff exit at the hands of FC Dallas, the Sounders could look drastically different by the time players gather for training camp in January.

In the face of a conference semifinal exit, Seattle’s front office could either go drastic – burning the roster’s framework to the ground – or hold tight like it did last offseason, giving an aging core one last crack at the MLS Cup.

The actual blueprint is likely to split the difference: getting younger around the edges while retaining the top-level stars as building blocks.

What might that look like? Here’s a projection on how Seattle’s busy offseason will shake out:


Stays: Charlie Lyon, Stefan Frei.

Goes: Troy Perkins.

Even at 34, Perkins is respected enough to earn rotation minutes somewhere in this league. With Frei having established himself as one of MLS’ better stoppers in 2015, regular playing time is going to be hard come by in Seattle.

Lyon acquitted himself well with S2, and fellow rookie Tyler Miller has received rave reviews behind the scenes as the possible heir apparent to Frei.


Stays: Andres Correa, Brad Evans, Oniel Fisher, Damion Lowe, Chad Marshall, Tyrone Mears, Jimmy Ockford, Dylan Remick, Zach Scott, Roman Torres.

Goes: Leo Gonzalez.

Mears let it be known that he wasn’t thrilled about the state of his one-year contract, and that was before his performance dipped over the final few months of the season. But when on his game, he’s one of the more complete right backs in MLS. At 32 he isn’t getting younger, but neither is the rest of the core Seattle doubled down on with its veteran midseason signings. If both sides can find the right price, the Sounders could use him.

Before you cry blasphemy on any speculation that connects Seattle’s captain with a move elsewhere, Evans and the club have backed themselves into disparate corners. Evans wants to get locked into a single position as he enters the back end of his career, and the Sounders have made it clear that he’s most valuable as a utility player. Something has to give.

The rest of the list is all about the numbers. The team simply can’t square Gonzalez’s $165,000-per-year salary * with his current role. And though questions remain about most of the others, all are either young enough or cheap enough – most are both – to keep around as depth guys.

No MLS team gave up fewer goals than the Sounders in 2015, so there’s no need to go crazy here.


Stays: Erik Friberg, Andreas Ivanschitz, Aaron Kovar, Marco Pappa, Cristian Roldan, Andy Rose.

Goes: Osvaldo Alonso, Micheal Azira, Lamar Neagle, Gonzalo Pineda, Thomas.

Alonso’s status will get most of the attention here, and with good reason. He’s been one of the club’s pillars from its inaugural MLS season. When he’s healthy, few midfielders in MLS can match his value as a two-way player.

The problem is that Alonso’s ability to stay healthy has started to edge from necessary evil to legitimate red flag. He missed more games this season than he ever has for the Sounders, and he was scratched for part of the playoff series that bounced them from the playoffs for a second consecutive year.

Alonso has too large of a salary – nearly $800,000 in guaranteed compensation – and plays too central of a role in Seattle’s system to prove unreliable come playoff time. Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl reported Thursday that the Sounders are shopping Alonso.

Pappa looked to be on his way out after an inconsistent spring and his summer DUI arrest, but the Guatemalan playmaker seems to have played his way back into the fold with a strong finish. He’s also a bargain at $75,000 per year.

Neagle struggled to lead the line in the absence of the Sounders’ star forwards during the summer, but his value as a rotation guy would be missed. He covers a lot of ground, pops up for the occasional spectacular goal and provides a local tie. The Sounders invested heavily in wingers during the summer, however, and Pappa’s resurgence likely edges the Federal Way native out.


Stays: Andy Craven, Clint Dempsey, Darwin Jones, Victor Mansaray, Obafemi Martins, Nelson Valdez.

Goes: Chad Barrett.

Signs: Jordan Morris.

Andy Rose nailed it when he described Dempsey and Martins as the “identity” of this team. They’re unlikely to go anywhere for at least another season. Moving either player would signal a rebuild, and that seems drastic for a roster that was a penalty shootout from the conference finals despite missing several regulars.

Dempsey’s contract situation is worth monitoring. The reported length of his original deal runs only through next season. And though the Sounders deferred comment as to whether those terms have changed, it’s unlikely the club would have buried the news that they’d reached an extension with their highest-profile player.

This roster is built for short-term contention, and Dempsey’s contract situation will provide a hint at how long the club thinks that window will stay cracked.

The Sounders finally are set to land their white whale in breakout U.S. national-team regular Morris, the Mercer Island native who has rebuffed their advances to stay at Stanford through his junior season.

Finding a way to fit all those attacking pieces into a coherent whole is a question that can wait until January.

* All salary information per the MLS Players’ Union.