By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
The Seattle Sounders got a head start on today’s MLS SuperDraft, pulling off a major trade Wednesday and signing a forward whose rights were acquired in an earlier deal.
Longtime Sounders central defenders Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Patrick Ianni were sent to the Chicago Fire in exchange for defender Jalil Anibaba. The deal also included an exchange of draft picks.
“Jalil is a center back who has tremendous upside,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said in a press release. “He has been very durable, and we expect him to contribute right away.”
Anibaba, 25, has started 93 games for Chicago over the past three seasons, including all 34 regular-season matches in 2013 when he recorded one goal and a career-high three assists.
He joined the Fire as the ninth pick in the 2011 SuperDraft after playing at Santa Clara University.
Hurtado, 29, and Ianni, 28, both came to Seattle in the expansion 2009 season. Both appeared regularly. In 2013, Hurtado matched his career-high with 27 appearances. He started 103 games as a Sounder, and in 2009 he was an MLS All-Star and finalist for defender of the year.
“One of the most difficult parts of this job is losing good people,” general manager Adrian Hanauer said in the release. “Jhon and Patrick are both quality individuals who have been with our organization from the beginning. We wish them the best in Chicago.”
Also as part of the deal, the Sounders moved up five places in the MLS SuperDraft, getting the Fire’s No. 8 selection along with a conditional 2015 third-round pick, while sending this season’s No. 13 pick to Chicago.
The SuperDraft will begin at 9 a.m. today.
“There’s fewer difference-makers than some years past, but I think you can still find guys,” Sounders assistant coach and scout Kurt Schmid said. “And once you get past the first handful of picks or so, I think there are a lot of solid picks there, and the quality is pretty consistent for a bit.”
D.C. United has the top pick, but there seems no consensus on how it will be used. Various mock drafts have predicted Christian Dean, a defender from California; Steve Birnbaum, also a defender from Cal, or Patrick Mullins, a forward from Maryland as the top pick. Mock drafts also have indicated Sounders’ interest in Aodhan Quinn, a forward/midfielder from Akron; Tesho Akindele, a forward/midfielder from Colorado School of Mines; Kyle Venter, a defender from New Mexico, Joey Dillon, a defensive midfielder from Georgetown, Schillo Tshuma, a forward/midfielder from Maryland.
Also Wednesday, Sounders FC announced the signing of Tristan Bowen, the forward whose rights were acquired from Chivas USA in exchange for Mauro Rosales.
“Tristan is a young player who has good experience in this league,” Sigi Schmid said. “He is very athletic and brings flexibility to our club. Tristan has the ability to play multiple positions.”
Bowen, 22, set career highs with 22 appearances and 15 starts last season. He recorded two goals and to assists. He began his pro career in 2008 as the first player signed from the Los Angeles Galaxy’s youth academy system.