KAISERSLAUTERN GERMANY - JANUARY 29: Marco Caligiuri (R) of Mainz is challenged by Christian Tiffert (L). (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)
News out of Germany is that Christian Tiffert has a three-year offer from the Seattle Sounders. As it seems he'd be more likely to replace a roster slot occupied by Alvaro Fernandez due to a need to pay a transfer fee of some size and plays in the space where Brad Evans usually lines up this is unlikely to be the only move of the window, if this move happens at all. Remember there are about two rumors per window where a player claims to have signed a contract with the Sounders that never comes to fruition.
But does a lineup that adds Tiffert and Alex Caskey as regular starters and loses Evans and Fernandez actually become significantly better? Caskey's best moments have come with small passes and in many ways plays like a Fernandez lite. Maybe when Steve Zakuani comes back to an ability to play midfield, the overall lineup quality improves, but for the near term Zakuani is going to play as a forward substitute to use his burst speed and passing while he builds endurance.
On the surface it seems like a move shuffling parts and not necessarily improving overall talent. This is common in MLS, as teams will always have weaknesses. Seattle usually adds players in the summer window, so this move would seem to indicate the Sounders will continue their tradition of trying to find pieces at every moment.
Or it could mean that there is some creative accounting going on in Seattle's front office. What if Hanauer has found a way to fit both Tiffert and Fernandez? If Kaiserslautern really needs to cut their payroll, there's a chance they could release their best player for free, especially if there are limited options. If Tiffert is a 250-300k player his second half cap hit is only half that. With the release of Christian Sivebaek they freed about 60k. That would be 33-50% of the money they need.
Depending on the fallout moves, or the salary cap calculus we can again see just how good the Hanauer/Henderson brain trust is at managing the roster.