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The Seattle Sounders appear set to be one of the busier teams ahead of next week’s Transfer Deadline. With one big signing already confirmed, and reports of two others percolating, the Sounders look to firm up their roster ahead of yet another late season playoff push. However, if they Sounders make more than one (foreign) addition, they’ll likely have to make some roster moves.
Per MLS (who helpfully updated their rosters on August 1), the Sounders currently have 27/30 roster slots filled. Of those three open slots, two are on the senior roster, and one is on the reserve roster. Ignore the reserve slot for now, as it applies to players whose (minimum) salaries don’t count against the salary budget, and are 24 years or younger. While one of the rumored signing –Brad Smith– is 24, it seems unlikely he’s coming here on a minimum reserve salary. So for purposes of this, let’s just assume he is on a senior roster contract.
So the Sounders have room to sign two senior players with no problem. Well, there is one problem. Right now, the Sounders have only one international slot remaining.
Felix Chenkam also occupies an international slot, but he’s been loaned down to Sounders 2 for the remainder of the year, and cannot be recalled to the first team.
So with two potential incoming foreign players, the Sounders need to find an additional international roster slot. While not confirming any particular incoming moves, a Sounders spokesman confirmed to me today that the Sounders international slot situation will NOT inhibit their ability to bring multiple players in.
With that said, how can the Sounders obtain the necessary international slot(s)? There are several ways (one of which is not available to them).
1: Purchase an international slot from another MLS team. The easiest way to obtain the slot is just to purchase it from another team. The market for international slots increased earlier this year, before coming back down to earth this week. If $50k in Garberbucks (or a draft pick) is the market, the Sounders should have no problem picking one up.
2: Green Card. The Sounders are great at getting their players green card. Just this year, Roman Torres and Nicholas Lodeiro picked theirs up. Of the players who would likely be close, one could imagine that Jordy Delem or Nouhou being ready to get theirs. Even Gustav Svensson possibly. The U.S. Government bureaucracy being what it is, it might be risky to assume these get done in time by the time the window closes, but this is another straight-forward option.
3: Roster moves. The Sounders could trade or transfer another player to free up a green card. Hard to see that the Sounders would get rid of any of their international players though. Raul Ruidiaz just got here, and Kim Kee Hee is the entrenched started at CB it looks like. Victor Rodriguez (though injured) is important to the team; same with Svensson. That would leave Delem or Nouhou. Neither makes much money at all, and for what they contribute, it would seem to be a questionable decision to move them if there isn’t much return. If the Sounders have receive a transfer offer for Nouhou, perhaps they’d decide to move him, especially if they’re bringing in a left back to replace him. They could likely also trade Delem in MLS, given his low wage and versatility, but that would seem to be a risk to get rid of a player with those virtues. But it is an option.
4: Loan. The loan option to Sounders 2 is not available (Chenkam is using that), but they could loan a foreign player elsewhere to free up a slot.
5: Injured Reserve. One of the players could be IR’d for the rest of the year. That means they couldn’t come back. Delem would be the obvious candidate.
There are probably some other convoluted mechanisms the Sounders could use, but whatever the Sounders do, their ability to bring in multiple foreign players should not be impacted by their need to obtain international roster slots.