With Roman Torres struggling due to a lingering hamstring problem, Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey reached out with Targeted Allocation Money to snag South Koren center back and national team member Kim Kee-hee.
Sounders center back Roman Torres has been sidelined this preseason by a lingering hamstring issue and the team on Tuesday spent some money to fix what loomed as a rather large problem for the injury-riddled side.
The Sounders signed South Korean center back Kim Kee-hee for Targeted Allocation Money (TAM), giving them a strapping 6-foot-2, 176-pound replacement for the physical Torres to start the season off and likely continue well into it. At age 28, Kim, who was dropped by Chinese Super League team Shanghai Greenland Shenhua due to roster restrictions on foreign players, had wanted a place to play ahead of joining the Korean national team for this summer’s FIFA World Cup.
“Kim is a strong, experienced player that we believe will be a good addition to our defense,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said in a release. “His signing gives us very good options at center back going forward, and I’m excited to see how he integrates to the squad.”
The nine-year veteran of leagues in China and South Korea had been in Seattle since last week resolving visa issues and passing a physical taken on Monday. The team officially signed him Tuesday afternoon and will add hin to the roster once he receives his P-1 visa and International Transfer Certificate.
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He won’t play right away, given his recent inactivity. For now, the Sounders will go with Gustav Svensson or Tony Alfaro at center back against Santa Tecla FC in CONCACAF Champions League play on Thursday and then in the MLS opener at home versus Los Angeles FC on Sunday.
Kim scored two goals in 45 career appearances with Shanghai after joining the squad two years ago for a whopping $6 million transfer fee described as among the largest in the league’s history.
The move to sign him comes with the Sounders feeling increasingly squeezed by injuries to several top players. Besides the Torres injury, the team announced this week that striker Jordan Morris is out for the year with a torn ACL in his right knee.
Midfielder Osvaldo Alonso is also out indefinitely after battling lingering injuries this pre-season while right back Kelvin Leerdam and midfielder Victor Rodriguez are not expected to face Santa Tecla.
Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey had already added midfielder Magnus Wolff Eikrem for TAM funds last month, making Kim the fourth such signing by the team since last July — along with Rodriguez and Leerdam. Lagerwey has also said he will likely add an attacking forward for designated player money in coming months to replace Morris.