KAISERSLAUTERN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 18: Oemer Toprak (top) of Leverkusen jumps for a header with Christian Tiffert of Kaiserslautern during the Bundesliga match between 1. FC Kaiserslautern and Bayer 04 Leverkusen at Fritz-Walter Stadium on November 18, 2011 in Kaiserslautern, Germany. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Christian Tiffert was officially unveiled as the Seattle Sounders' newest Designated Player on Friday. News of the signing first leaked out earlier that morning when German outlets were reporting the deal and became all but official after the Sounders announced they had traded Alvaro Fernandez to the Chicago Fire about 45 minutes earlier.
"We were extremely impressed with Christian during his visit to Seattle," Sounders part-owner and General Manager Adrian Hanauer said in a team release. "His character and mentality fit well with the culture we have established within the organization, both on the field and in the locker room. We believe Christian will help us in our push towards the playoffs and beyond."
German reports suggested the contract was for three years, which would be a pretty standard MLS deal, but it was not entirely clear if a transfer fee was involved. From the sound of it, Tiffert's salary should make him a DP, regardless of other fees.
Tiffert becomes the sixth DP in Sounders history, but the first who is both in the prime of his career and coming directly from a top European league. The 30-year-old has played the past two seasons in the Bundesliga with FC Kaiserslautern. He has more than 280 appearances in the German top flight, including a second-place finish with VfB Stuttgart in 2003. In 2010-11 he helped lead FCK to a seventh place finish -- their best top-flight performance in nearly a decade. Along the way, he picked up a Bundesliga-best 17 assists that year.
But Kaiserslautern slumped badly in 2011-12, finishing last in the 18-team league and being relegated. Although Tiffert was among the best players in the league at creating chances, he only had two goals and one assist to show for it. His coach Marco Kurz was fired in March, and Tiffert was apparently not in the plans going forward.
"We wanted to bring in a player who is a central midfielder and has playmaking capabilities," said Head Coach Sigi Schmid. "Christian is a player who fits this mold and brings a lot of experience from the top league in Germany. His leadership and versatility make him a good fit for our club."
With a rather large hole now on the left side, it's entirely possible Tiffert could initially play there for the Sounders. Although he's primarily a central midfielder, he has played all over the midfield, and that would allow Brad Evans and Andy Rose to keep playing in the middle.