Searching for the Free - Winter 12/13

Mike Hewitt

This Black Friday edition of Searching for the Free is brought to you by the idea of Doing Something Special.

Update: In light of Adrian Hanauer saying at the business meeting that they use different version of the same tools we do to find players why not bump this back up top. They also use other tools we can't use, like this fancy system that shows video of every match shown on any TV system.

Searching for the Free is a semi-regular look at players who would be available on a Free within the next two transfer windows. Without a master list of Frees available around the world speculation is really up to fans, as it is doubtful that agents are going to let the general public know when their clients are available.

The concept is simple. Find a Free and make their case as to why they would fit with the Seattle Sounders. Let's assume a DP slot is made available somehow (you can tell us how if you'd like) and then have at it. Scour the webs, look for rumors, look for non-rumored players that make sense, most of all have semi-intelligent fun.

Priming the conversation today are two players based on malcontentjake's idea of Doing Something Special - the special in this case is finding the absolute best talents from non-tradition footballing nations. Seattle kind of already tried this with Mrisho Ngassa, but with the two targets laid out below we're talking much better talents from better nations, but still far from traditional.

Ehsan Hajsafi - Left Back, Left Mid

The Iranian national team player would qualify as a youth DP. His contract is up this summer so a pre-contract agreement could be reached (think Nkufo). His agent represents several MLS players (including a couple DPs) and his national team coaching staff is probably more familiar with American soccer than any other in the world.

Currently with Tractor Sazi in Iran, he has a previous stint with Sepahan. He's been used as a left back, left mid and central mid. At times Hajsafi was the primary free kick taker for his team. He is a speedy assist man with 29 matches in the AFC Champions League and about 50 CAPs with the national team. Iran is a decent 45th in the Soccer Power Index, but is not a power.

Young, but clearly skilled the signing of a youth DP defender would be shocking, but it would also be a long term investment in a player that will likely move on since he is represented by a huge agency. Is this likely? No, but it would be a fun little shift in how MLS teams find talents.

Youssi Benayoun - Attacking Mid (any type of attacking mid)

Yes, after suggesting an Iranian the next presentation is of an Israeli - so? Benayoun is older and clearly in his down years. He's visited Seattle with Chelsea this past summer but reports of his performance aren't great. On his second loan during his time with Chelsea, a loan that takes to out of contract he's at that age and contract status that tends to get a player mentioning that they'd like to come play soccer in the United States.

A supporting player with decent scoring skills, strong tactical mind and a bit of an assist man he isn't playing much. This may be a case where a team would release him rather than sell him as all that's happening now is a reduction in his value and future contract size. He is currently in and out of the national team.

If Seattle were to make a play for a player like Benayoun it would be a slight departure from the generally younger DP strategy they've used lately. But it would not be a "name." If he could adapt to the culture changes of the USA and MLS he could be a strong player. He also wouldn't be the first Israeli in the league.

Yes, these are flights of fancy, but they are also players that would improve the Sounders in a unique way. What are your favorite Frees and how would they fit with Seattle?

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