Eriq Zavaleta's circuitous route to MLS playing time took an interesting turn on Friday when it was announced that the Generation Adidas player would be sent to Chivas USA on a year-long loan. During his rookie year, Zavaleta was twice loaned to the NASL's San Antonio Scorpions.
Zavaleta, 21, was facing some stiff competition for playing time as long as he was with the Sounders, and likely would have been relegated to mostly late-match appearances and reserve-league action if he had stayed put. A move to Chivas USA almost surely means the prospect of significantly more first-team playing time.
"We know Eriq very well from his time with us in the U.S. U-17 Residency Program, and what he's capable of doing not only playing as a forward but also as a center back," Chivas USA head coach Wilmer Cabrera said in a team release. "He is going to be a very good addition to our team."
Zavaleta only made five first-team appearances with the Sounders in 2013 and was mostly limited to late-match duty as he accumulated just 31 minutes of playing time. In the Reserve League, he was the Sounders' leading scorer with four goals.
That was certainly disappointing, as the Sounders had high hopes for Zavaleta after moving up in the SuperDraft to select him with the No. 10 overall pick. The Sounders had envisioned developing Zavaleta into a center back, but that never really took hold and they eventually moved him back to the position where he scored 18 goals during his final season at Indiana.
Although the Sounders are unlikely to receive anything in exchange, this does open up a roster spot. That leaves them with five open spots -- which assumes they'll be cutting ties with Shalrie Joseph -- and six unsigned players still in training camp. Michael Azira, Osvaldo Pineda, Kevin Parsemain, Cam Weaver, Fabio Pereira and John Arroyo remain with the team. The Sounders could also leave roster spots open to leave room for future signings.