By John Boyle Herald Writer
Earlier this month, the Seattle Sounders took a look at veteran midfielder Shalrie Joseph, but coach Sigi Schmid indicated it was unlikely that his team would make a trade for the seven-time MLS All-Star.
On Tuesday, however, the Sounders announced that they did indeed acquire Joseph in a trade with Chivas USA, a move that actually landed Seattle a pair of draft picks in addition to Joseph as Chivas continues to overhaul its roster and dump salary in the process. The Sounders gave up no players for Joseph.
By adding Joseph, Seattle fills its last designated player spot, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the Sounders won’t also add a big-name player either before the season starts or during the summer transfer window.
General manager Adrian Hanauer said on a conference call that Seattle is still looking to “Go out and spend money on a big DP.” To do so now, however, the Sounders would have to either buy out one of its existing designated players — Joseph, Mauro Rosales or Christian Tiffert — or renegotiate a player’s deal in a way that makes him no longer occupy a DP slot. Of the three, the most likely candidate to go is Tiffert, a midseason addition last year who has missed much of the preseason with an undisclosed injury.
Adding Joseph makes an already deep and talented midfield that much more crowded. Tiffert could be the odd man out if Seattle finds a big-name forward to pair with Eddie Johnson before the March 2 season opener, or even if Hanauer and company just want to free up a DP slot before the season. Having an open DP lot gives the team the flexibility to sign someone this summer when the European leagues finish their seasons.
“I’d be lying if I said that we’re not very interested in acquiring another forward, and I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t a player who potentially could fill that designated player role, of which we’ve got three right now,” Hanauer said. “So that gives you a heads up that we are considering all of our options over the next couple of weeks.”
As for Joseph, it remains to be seen exactly how the 34-year-old, who has been named to the MLS Best XI squad four times, will fit into Seattle’s midfield. However, the Sounders obviously have a big role in mind for Joseph since they were willing to use a designated player slot to acquire him. Hanauer conceded that Joseph is not yet in game-shape — he had not been practicing with Chivas prior to joining Seattle earlier this month for a weekend of training — and he also couldn’t say if Joseph has a future in Seattle beyond this season.
“I don’t know, and I’m not sure that Shalrie knows,” Hanauer said. “Our only objective is that he helps us win an MLS Cup this season, and then we’ll figure out the rest down the line.”
Joseph spent most of his career with New England and at one point helped the Revolution to three straight MLS Cup finals. He was not in Chivas’ plans this season as the club rebuilt under new ownership — Chivas coach Jose Luis Sanchez Sola made as much publicly known. So, Joseph was allowed to train with Seattle earlier this month and at the time he had high hopes for finishing his career with a contender.
“I know the organization, I know the coaches, I know some of the players,” Joseph said after his first day training with Seattle. “They have a winning organization and I think I can be a great part of this if I get the opportunity … This is one of the greatest organizations in the league right now, and I wanted to be a part of it.
“This is a good place for me, especially in this part of my career. I want to win a trophy, I want to get back to a championship, and I think this team, if I can be a part of it, I think they can make that jump.”
A day later, however, Schmid told reporters that Joseph was not in the best of shape and said, “expectations are that it’s probably not going to happen.”
So what changed? Well it’s possible Schmid’s comments were a negotiating ploy, but Schmid, who has long been a fan of Joseph’s, also could have been legitimately unsure at the time if Seattle could make a trade work out.
Hanauer said that while Joseph is coming in as a designated player, only part of his salary will count against Seattle’s salary cap, while Chivas also will foot some of the bill. In addition to getting Chivas’ second-round picks in each of the next two drafts, Seattle also moved up in the allocation rankings, acquiring the No. 3 spot for the No. 15 spot. An allocation process is used for signing U.S. National Team players who are joining MLS from other leagues around the world. Two notable Sounders, Kasey Keller and Eddie Johnson, went through that process, so moving up could pay dividends down the road.
“For us, that’s huge,” Hanauer said. “? Sometimes a player comes through (the allocation process) that may not be a big-time player, but sometimes players come through that are big, important players.”
Traore signing soon?
When talking about potential additions between now and the start of the season, Hanauer noted “there’s a high likelihood” of Seattle signing defender Djimi Traore before the start of the season.
Traore, 32, has been training with Seattle for more than two weeks, and would fill one of the team’s biggest needs at center back. The Sounders traded Jeff Parke, arguably the team’s best defender during the past two seasons, in the offseason, and are currently without Patrick Ianni, who has a fractured foot that could cause him to miss the start of the season. Traore, who most recently played for Marseille, has an impressive resume that includes a UEFA Champions League title won with Liverpool in 2005.
Herald Writer John Boyle: email@example.com.