Like many of you, I’m disappointed the Sounders were unable to get a deal done before the transfer window closed. However, there are a few fairly solid free agents in Europe that could probably help with our issues at forward. I’ve included a poll at the bottom to see what you think.
5. Shefki Kuqi
A 34-year old Finnish international, Kuqi has spent most of the last ten years playing with English clubs. He spent the 2011 campaign with Premier League side Newcastle, making just six appearances scoring no goals. He has recently had more success in lower levels, scoring 7 goals in 32 appearances with Swansea City and Derby County in the 2010. He has shown his ability to put up prolific goal scoring numbers, scoring 74 goals between 2001-05. Kuqi has 62 caps with the Finnish national team. He has scored eight goals, most recently against Wales in a 2010 World Cup qualifier. His bellyflopping goal scoring celebration has given him the nickname the “Flying Finn”.
Good: Kuqi has shown glimpses of amazing goal-scoring ability. A player with international experience like his could probably contribute well to the Sounders.
Bad: He hasn’t been scoring goals lately. He could be past his prime, and may never recover from his recent downhill slide.
4. Gorka Pintado
Recently released from Swansea City of the English Championship, Pintado, a 33-year old Spaniard, scored an impressive 62 goals in 104 appearances in the Spanish Segunda Division between 2005-08. He has netted 6 goals in 73 appearances with Swansea City since then. In January, he was loaned to Cypriot club AEK Larnaca, where he scored 4 goals in just 6 appearances.
Good: Pintado has torn up competition below him, most notably in Spain’s lower levels and in Cyprus. He seems to have a good amount of experience without having lost too much skill.
Bad: I don’t know much about the Spanish Segunda Division, but I don’t think it is that great. I worry that making the jump to MLS could take him time to adapt, time that the Sounders don’t really have.
3. Ioannis Amanatidis
A former Greek international, where he scored three goals in 35 caps, the 29-year old Amanatidis most recently played for 2.Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt. In six years with them, he scored 36 goals in 125 appearances. He has 12 Bundesliga goals, all coming between 1999-2004.
Good: A young player with the ability to score, Amanatidis could be an interesting long-term piece, if able to make the jump to MLS.
Bad: You would like to see someone in Europe’s lower levels put up gaudy numbers, but Amanatidis hasn’t. It’s been seven years since he last had a chance in the top Bundesliga, which worries me.
Rigters, a 27-year old Dutchman, was most recently under contract with Premier League outfit Blackburn, where he had been since 2007. He made just two appearances with the club, but was loaned out the majority of the time. He made two appearances with Norwich City in 2008, then earned 19 caps with Barnsley. He scored no goals with either side, but spent the 2010 season with Willem II in the second division in his native Netherlands. He appeared 28 times, scoring 5 goals. Rigters won 9 caps with the Netherlands U21 side between 2005-07, scoring 6 goals. He was named to the 2006 UEFA U21 Championship Team of the tournament.
Good: Rigters has seemed to score goals when given chances, which he couldn’t do in the Premier League. As shown by his international experience, he can excel when surrounded by talent, as the Sounders have.
Bad: Rigters has lost a fair bit of his goal-scoring prowess, at least according to his stats, in the past few years. I am especially worried that in the past five years, his only goals have come in the second division in the Netherlands.
1. Raul Tamudo
A former Spanish international at the U20, U21, U23 and senior levels, Tamudo spent the 2010-11 season at newly promoted Real Sociedad, where he had seven goals in 31 appearances. The 33-year old has spent most of his career at Espanyol, where he is the team’s all-time leading scorer. He found the back of the net 129 times in 340 appearances between 1996-2010. He has five goals in 13 caps with the senior national side, appearing last in 2007.
Good: Anyone who is the all-time leading scorer at a La Liga club is pretty impressive. A goal in fewer than each three appearances, for Spain no less, is pretty cool.
Bad: Like some others on this list, his production has dropped slightly as he has aged. If he continues this small, albeit dangerous trend, he could become a nightmare.