Actually likely not.
Sure, WorldSoccerReader and KING5 are both reporting that Fredy Montero is going to be extended/re-signed today. It seems likely that he's another Designated Player for Seattle. There are a ton of questions that arise if this is indeed what the Wed Noon Player Announcement is. Some of the answers will never be known.
But a few will start to take shape over the coming days.
With the strict cap how will Seattle still have depth without min/maxing? There is a strong possibility that Seattle becomes a team like Los Angeles or New York with a few players at high contracts, almost none at middle contracts, and many in the low ends. This doesn't have to be a problem, if the min. contract guys are good players capable of being better than average starters.
But without those middle contract quality guys it will make the non-League competitions that much harder to win. Seattle still has been quite firm that their goal is to win the CCL in their future. Those middle contract guys must be rotational quality players now.
To compete in more than one tournament the Sounders need to be have a league average starter and a high level rotational at every role. The weaknesses of the early 2010 season, and the poor start, actually had us pondering the usefulness of inverting the rotation in order to win non-League games like the Open Cup and CCL.
Looking back at the most recent depth chart Seattle is two deep at the Target Forward, either the WF or LW, either CM or RW, and at the centerback. If we believe that the spine is key to success (we do), then that's a good thing. Of the four chunks of positions with quality depth, it is notable that Seattle actually has depth where its DPs are. It does not have the depth in the wide positions, particularly on defense, nor at Keeper. There are ways to get around the cap and find more depth, we'll get to those in a bit.
This is just one of the issues with the 3rd DP and the Cap though.
Another problem is that it limits the ability of teams to discover talent, develop it and keep it. Now with 3 DPs this is certainly more possible than any other time, but the limits are there. Seattle won't have space for another U-25 potential MLS Best XI on the roster. Someone will eventually be sold on rather than kept.
This doesn't mean keeping Montero through this method is a bad idea. It is certainly better to control him longer, and earn more when he leaves, than to lose him now. Only those who are purely developed through the Sounders Academy can be kept, and then only on their HGP contracts.
Now, I'm quite stoked that the Seattle Sounders seem very likely to have Montero until his final contract entering his peak period. The same is already true for Alvaro Fernandez. We may see similar things with Steve Zakuani. This front office has found ways to get strong talents, in their youth to come here and stay. If they can keep this offensive core around for 2 or 3 years more each will likely leave to the best league of their life directly from MLS. This is a great change from MLS being a mere stepping stone from MLS, to Scandinavia, to somewhere like Belgium to one of the Big 5 (if the players are that good). MLS 3.0 may be a launching pad into the Big 5 leagues, which is a significant transition.
Again, it is a new era.
Not just 3 Designated Players, but also the new Home Grown Player (HGP) rules.
And this is one of the ways that teams like Seattle can get around the cash crunch.
Tristan Bowen and Juan Agudelo are the signs of what could be here in Seattle. Starting caliber talent, whether they start or not, but entirely off the salary cap (or budget limitations as Garber calls them). Seattle has a few players that could be keys here. Not by themselves, but as part of the overall plan. If even one of the potential HGPs are signed, and succeed they offset one bad contract at the mid-level. While the team is busy picking up options and negotiating contracts we can't know which contracts are as bad as last year but there are at least 3 that are purely over-valued.
The HGPs aren't the only salary relief though. Seattle has four picks in the first two rounds of the MLS SuperDraft. Every Generation Adidas player drafted has no cap hit (though these do expire in a few years). There are likely to be only 8-10 GA players in the draft (though 11 last year), but Seattle could grab a one to three of these capable of playing now and again soften their pressure at the mid-level of their contracts.
If Seattle has indeed signed Goleador as the third DP we should expect a combination of the following events, all to lessen the cap pressure while increasing the overall talent level of the team.
- Decline Options or Reduced Value of Non-Rotational Mid-Contract Players
- Sign Several HGPs Capable of Playing 500+ Minutes of League Ball
- Acquire One to Three Generation Adidas Players in the SuperDraft
No single move will be enough. Searching for Frees becomes a lot less important, because the team doesn't have room for significant international signings. But they do have room to add good players to their roster, players capable of helping the team win more trophies.
The questions that need to be asked is how the Sounders will have a team that competes in the CCL and MLS next year under the cap limitation? Does Montero's signing as a 3rd DP effect future Sounders signings of high level talent? Is this a further sign that Adrian Hanauer will continue to find pre-peak talent rather than the typical MLS DP entering the retirement era?