The move, even moreso than most deals of its kind, is best characterized as a business decision first. Simply put, if Pappa wasn’t due such a significant salary increase, he’d stay in Seattle.
Though the MLS Players’ Union listed Pappa’s 2015 salary at $75,000, his 2016 wage was set to “significantly increase,” as general manager Garth Lagerwey put it. With Obafemi Martins, Clint Dempsey and Nelson Valdez occupying the three DP slots and Osvaldo Alonso and Roman Torres just below that line, the club was always going to struggle to squeeze in another player at that level under the cap.
Pappa’s stock fluctuated wildly throughout 2015.
The 28-year-old could do little as Guatemala slumped to a disheartening group-stage exit at this summer’s Gold Cup, and a few weeks later, Pappa was arrested the morning after a Sounders home game for driving under the influence and speeding in downtown Seattle. Pappa missed more than a month of action after the arrest but gradually worked his way back into the fold. He was one of the team’s most potent attacking threats down the stretch and made two postseason appearances.
Pappa has played in 49 regular-season MLS matches in two seasons for the Sounders, notching nine goals and 11 assists. Should the trade come to pass, Pappa will probably be mostly fondly remembered for his late-game heroics on the final day of the 2014 season, when he scored two goals off the bench as Seattle defeated the L.A. Galaxy to clinch its first-ever Supporters’ Shield.