The Sounders traded left back Brad Smith to D.C. United, the clubs announced Thursday.
The Sounders will receive $750,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM) for the transaction. They also retain 10% of any payment if Smith is transferred to a non-MLS team.
“Since (Brad’s) arrival, he’s been a great member of our organization — on and off the field — and we wish him the best in the next chapter of his career,” Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey said in a news release.
Smith was originally acquired via loan from AFC Bournemouth in 2018 and sought after for permanent rights. The English Premier League club extended the loan with the Sounders in July 2019, Smith playing a key role in the MLS championship season but recalled Smith and loaned him to play for Cardiff City FC in Wales.
The Australian international was vocal about his young family not wanting to leave Seattle and the close relationships formed. Once the loan with Bournemouth expired, Smith took an approximate 75% pay cut to re-sign in 2020 with the Sounders in a backloaded deal through 2022, according to figures provided by the MLS Players Association.
“Going away from it was quite upsetting,” said Smith, a married father of two boys, at the time. “Being back (in Europe) was difficult. I always knew I wanted to come back. It was a lot of stuff that had to be worked out but I’m glad it all got sorted in the end and I’m super happy to be back.”
While Smith was highly regarded, Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer did have a logjam at left back. The club switched to a new formation last year and put Smith on the wing with Nouhou playing at left center back.
The pairing helped the Sounders start the 2021 season on an MLS record 13-game unbeaten streak. Smith also recorded his three career MLS goals during the run, adding four assists to last year’s stats.
Smith, who had 11 assists in 63 appearances (49 starts) with the Sounders, has been hampered by hamstring injuries. He was healthy to open training camp this year and traveled with the club for the 10-day session in Tucson. Smith didn’t feature in Wednesday’s goal-less draw against Portland likely due to the pending trade.
D.C. United needed a fullback because of the expected transfer of homegrown defender Kevin Paredes to German Bundesliga side VfL Wolfsburg.
Depending on formation, Schmetzer will call on Jimmy Medranda and Nouhou for defending on the left side. Medranda is in camp, but Nouhou is playing for his Cameroonian national team in the Africa Cup of Nations.
The Sounders are in preparations to open their 2022 schedule with a CONCACAF Champions League series against F.C. Motagua. They host Nashville SC on Feb. 27 at Lumen Field to begin MLS competition.
“Brad has been nothing but a consummate professional since he arrived here in 2018,” Schmetzer said. “He helped us achieve a lot of success, including an MLS Cup title, and has been a critical member of our locker room. Once a Sounder, always a Sounder.”