TUKWILA — Shalrie Joseph isn’t a Seattle Sounder. Not yet anyway.
But Joseph, one of Major League Soccer’s best midfielders over the past decade, was on the field practicing with Sounders FC on Friday with the hopes of joining the team for the 2013 season.
Joseph, 34, is still a member of Chivas USA, but both he and the Los Angeles club have made it clear that his future is elsewhere. But since Chivas still holds Joseph’s rights, Seattle will have to work out a trade if it wants to acquire the seven-time MLS All-Star.
“Hopefully they can make it work,” said Joseph, a four-time member of the MLS Best XI team. ” … Hopefully it will work out in the next couple of weeks and hopefully I’ll be wearing a Sounders uniform.”
If Seattle wants to acquire Joseph it will be complicated to fit his salary onto an already cap-constrained roster. Joseph, who was traded from New England to Chivas last summer, signed a contract with New England after the 2011 season that made him a designated player. Seattle does have an open DP slot after the departure of Fredy Montero, but the club has said it might use that spot on a forward to replace Montero. That means if Sounders FC likes what it sees out of Joseph in training, adding him could come at the cost of another high-paid veteran.
Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid has long praised Joseph when preparing to face the Revolution in years past, so if Joseph shows anything even close to the form he had in his best years, it may be hard for Schmid to resist making a move.
“He’s a quality player; he’s always been a quality player,” Schmid said. “He’s been involved in good teams. He was a main cog on a (New England) team that got to MLS Cups for a lot of years, and he’s a guy who talks and helps direct younger players, so there are a lot of positive qualities to him. But we’re a team that’s cap constrained, so there are a lot of things to work out.”
Joseph said he knew almost immediately after meeting with Chivas’ new coach, Jose Luis Sanchez Sola, that he was not going to stay with the club, and Sanchez Sola told MLSsoccer.com that Joseph wasn’t in the team’s plans.
“It’s been a frustrating couple of weeks in L.A., so now I’m enjoying getting back to playing,” Joseph said. “It feels good to train with some guys who actually appreciate what I can bring to a team. For me it’s just trying to get out there, kick the ball around and get back to what I love doing, which is playing soccer.”
Joseph said when he talked to his agent, Seattle was his first choice for finishing his career.
“I know the organization, I know the coaches, I know some of the players. 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.”
No decision on defenders
After trading starting center back Jeff Parke, Seattle was already thin at that position, and now that Patrick Ianni is sidelined with foot fracture, Schmid and company are looking at their options, bringing in several defenders for a tryout, most notably 32-year-old Djimi Traore, whose career includes winning a UEFA Champions League title with Liverpool, as well as longtime MLS veteran Shavar Thomas. The season opener is less than a month away, but Schmid said the team can’t rush into a decision.
“The main urgency is to make the right decision,” he said. “To make an impulsive decision that’s the wrong decision, and then you’re locked in and you can’t get out of that and something better comes along the line, at the end of the day that doesn’t help you.”
Close to full strength
Seattle has been without four players — Eddie Johnson, Brad Evans, Mario Martinez and Adam Johansson — throughout the preseason as those players were away with their respective national teams. Johnson was back with the team Friday, though he did not practice. Schmid said he told all four players to take Friday off, and that he expects all will be with the team for today’s practice.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.