Seattle Sounders FC Sporting Director Chris Henderson is entering one of the more active periods of time. These next four weeks allow him to move from talent evaluator to talent acquirer. MLS teams can dip into the global soccer market and sign players, even if they are under contract, as long as they pay a fee.
Henderson laid out ground work recently traveling to Europe and scouting the World Cup.
"I was in Europe three weeks ago, for 10 days," he told Sounder at Heart recently. "I had some good meetings over there that went well. I met with a few players."
Fans should not expect a big move. There are currently three Designated Players. The club does have some Allocation Money, but is reluctant to use it all on just one player right now. It is hard to know when the next allotment of Allocation is coming.
"There's a few guys that we watched [at the World Cup] that are non-DP players. Whether we have enough money to make it work without using all of our allocation money, because we need to make sure that we look at the long term as well and balance it out, not use it all in one year," Henderson explained. "I think there's a couple players that we followed, but most of the guys are going to be out of our range with having three DPs here already."
Bargain hunting at the World Cup is nearly impossible. Most of global soccer wants to find value there, and in the end it usually costs more now then it did three weeks ago. One potential player is Jose Miguel Cubero. The Costa Rican national teamer was linked with Seattle prior to the Cup and is the type of player that could slip past other building leagues.
But he may not be the type of player Sounders FC needs. He's a central midfielder of the box-to-box variety. The team already has two of those that can start in Pineda and Evans with Rose and Periera capable of playing there as well.
Who to add isn't complicated calculus but there is some math. It involves ending contracts, current player age and health, the potential expansion draft and where current holes in the roster are.
"There's a lot of things with guys coming back from injury as well that we're kind of looking at. We kind of have a list of our guys that we're following and a lot of it is timing. We kind of look at immediate needs and at what changes we may have next year and then positional needs."
The Sounders have some flexibility, but with the current record and lack of assured Allocation Money one should not expect them to act. Henderson knows how he would want to get more Allocation Money;
"Getting to Champions League is big, for a bunch of different reasons it's great to get in there. For me the Supporters' Shield is the way to get in there. I know the Open Cup is the way we've done it before. Any way to get in there, really, but the Supporters' Shield means that you are the best team over a long period. I think the consistency of being one of those top teams every year is a goal for the club and to be at least in the running to win that [the Shield] is important for the club."