By John Boyle Herald Writer
SEATTLE — As expected, Sounders FC cut ties with midfielder Christian Tiffert Saturday, freeing up one of the team’s three designated players slots.
Tiffert, who joined the Sounders last summer, had not been with the team for most of the preseason and Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer and Sigi Schmid dropped plenty of hints that the German midfielder may be on his way out. The move became official Saturday afternoon prior to Seattle’s season opener, which was the deadline for buying out a player.
The move will allow Seattle to add a third designated player—big-money player whose contract counts only partially toward a team’s salary cap—presumably Nigerian forward Obafemi Martins, who currently plays for Levante, a team in Spain’s La Liga. Hanauer has confirmed the team’s interest in Martins, and Martins has indicated to reporters that he wants to come to Seattle. The deal has not yet been completed to get Martins out of his current contract, but it could be finalized early this week.
“There’s a little delay but I’m optimistic everything will be resolved soon,” Martins told BBC Sport. “It is only a minor misunderstanding. Hopefully we can sort it out by Monday.”
The Sounders have until May 6 to add Martins before the league’s transfer window closes, but to free up the designated player spot needed to add a player of his stature, a move had to be finalized prior to the start of the season.
The Sounders signed Tiffert last summer as a designated player, and while the German was a regular in the starting lineup, he did not have the impact one might expect from a DP. With Seattle adding Shalrie Joseph to an already crowded midfield, Tiffert became expendable for a team that wants to upgrade at forward following the departure of Fredy Montero, who is playing on a one-year loan to Colombia’s Millonarios.
Tiffert, who started 11 games last season and had three assists, had the shortest tenure of any of Seattle’s designated players, spending just seven months with the club. Joseph, who was acquired in a trade last month, is the seventh designated player in Seattle’s history, joining current DP Mauro Rosales, and former DPs Freddie Ljungberg, Blaise Nkufo, Alvaro Fernandez, Montero, and Tiffert.