When the Montreal Impact select 10 players at Noon Pacific a couple may never set foot in Quebec as they will be used in swaps to get protected talents, allocation or draft picks. Considering the Seattle Sounders needs - veteran leadership, fullback, target forward - there are a few players that make a bit of sense. All, but one, are expensive which would complicate things greatly, but each of the following targets could help Seattle build more peak level talent. Only one is young.
First up on the list is Brian Ching. He's signed through 2013 to a large deal (2011 at 413k guaranteed), has indicated that he won't play for Montreal. But for a team that doesn't have a physical target forward and that needs strong leadership he fits that mold. No longer the goal scorer he once was, Ching still but more than 45% of shots on frame. The 33 year old is clearly in his decline, misses about a third of a year every year and would have to be talked into returning to a city where he had his greatest scoring success, in the A-League. While Ching fits some of what Seattle needs the chances are essentially zero due to his admiration for Kinnear and love for the city of Houston and the Dynamo.
There's another big contract, non-DP former United States national team player that could garner some attention. Bobby Convey is available in the Expansion Draft after a fairly public contractual spat with the San Jose Earthquakes. If he's not selected today it is nearly certain that he will be available in the Re-Entry Draft as the league still has an option on the player but the Quakes don't want him back at that price, and don't like him at his own preferred position. Robert Jonas from Quake, Rattle and Goal says the following about Convey;
Bobby Convey as expressed a desire to leave the San Jose Earthquakes and will be looking for a team that can maximize his talents from the left midfielder position. While often employed as a left back by Quakes head coach Frank Yallop, Convey has stated that he feels he can be a more effective playing on the wing.
Convey is in his peak period, understands the league and the game as a vet of over a decade. As a left back he'd be intriguing for Seattle, but this team clearly doesn't need a 336k 28-year-old midfielder. The only way he comes to Seattle would be if the club could convince him that they want an extremely attacking left back and he's willing to take a major pay-cut to be part of a championship caliber team for a few years.
Entering into relative bargains, and less famous names another target is sometime right back, some time centerback, some time left back Zarek Valentin. Chivas USA left the 20-year-old Generation Adidas graduate available as he'll make nearly 150k in 2012. Goat Parade blogger Alicia Ratterree notes;
Zarek Valentin had a steady season playing right back with Chivas USA. For much of the campaign, he was part of a good backline that was underrated, but fell apart when Heath Pearce picked up an injury towards the end of the year. He made some mistakes, but they were essentially rookie mistakes, occasionally ball-watching or providing poor clearances, and certainly nothing egregious. In 2011, Valentin stayed at home in defense, probably out of necessity in getting used to the professional game. He seldom moved up the field to help out in attack, and that is a component of his game that he should work on moving forward. In addition, he is very skinny, and at 20 years old will probably naturally build a bit more bulk in the next couple of years, but he needs to develop his body a bit more to really compete with some of the more physical attackers in the league.
Above all, Valentin is a promising prospect, and Chivas fans are hoping he somehow won't get picked by Montreal. There isn't a much better endorsement than that, right
Valentin would help Seattle defensively, but as Sigi has noted he wants a player who can get into the attack more effectively. One thing this kind of move would do would leave a bit of space for Seattle in other areas while adding a player who should be effective for years to come. Being coached by Caleb Porter at Akron isn't a bad thing either.
Real Salt Lake's Robbie Russell is left dangling today. He's in that past peak area at age 32 and carries a 134k 2011 price tag. A right back that is more defensive in nature than James Riley his price probably means he isn't a great fit with the Sounders. One of the fittest players on RSL his experience and success in the Playoffs and Champions League may be of interest.
Kosuke Kimura is a classic 'energy over skill' type of player at right back, though his skills aren't anything to sneeze at.. His defensive skills have been growing quickly since he came into the league, though he's still more of a pure offensive weapon with his crosses and overlapping runs with the midfielders than a defensive stalwart. On the defensive side, he gets by with good speed and close marking rather than overly chippy play, taking the ball away via annoyance more often than actual play on the ball. He's the kind of guy that you'll rarely notice but always doing the little things on a football pitch, and he always brings energy and heart to a defensive back four with his never say die attitude. If you have Kosuke, you have a guy that you will almost never have to worry about not penciling in at right back for a long season.
At a slightly lower price than James Riley with a very similar skill set and two years younger swapping for Kimura would indicate that Seattle is opening up more space for other subsequent off-season moves while sticking in neutral for the time being.
Only convincing Convey to be happy at left back would be a major improvement, but it would also be the only significant, simple (ha!) non-keeper move of the year. Seattle's improvements are more likely to be through a series of small improvements rather than one headline grabbing trade or signing. The attempt I'd make is to nab Zarek Valentin to develop long-term and use as a 3rd CB and second fullback in 2012.