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Roster Roulette

With five USL favorites cut yesterday and the up-coming SuperSearch final tomorrow after the Super Bowl, it is time to start looking at who is likely to make the inaugural season, whose rights will be held by Seattle Sounders FC and who may have to move on from their Seattle dreams.

First those cuts were Hugo Alcarez-Cuellar, Kevin Sakuda, Kenji Treschuk, Youssef Kante and John Fishbaugher. Sakuda and Treschuk were the ones that surprised the most as they both fill vital defensive roles, and have the useful flexibility needed for bench players.

I call this roulette, because due to Major League Soccer rules a club can not just stock talent, but is forced to make difficult choices.

The Senior Roster is limited to 18-20 players and the Developmental Roster can be 4-6 players. Generation Adidas players can take slots on the Developmental side of the roster and their salaries do not count against the cap. Other Developmental Players must be U-25 and honestly, underpaid.

MLS clubs are also limited on the number of "international" players they may carry, to 8 total unless trades have been made as international slots can be swapped. Seattle though currently sits at 8 slots, with either 5 or 6 slots occupied. The main question is whether Sebastien Le Toux has a green card as he has been a resident of Seattle for two years, but may be doing it on a visa.

Fredy Montero (Colombia), Jarrod Smith (New Zealand), Sanna Nyassi (Gambia), Sebastien Le Toux (France), Steve Zakuani (England) and Freddie Ljungberg (Sweden - designated player).

Osvaldo Alonso (Cuba) is a political asylum case and his MLS roster status is undetermined. Khano Smith of Bermuda has a green card which makes him a legal and permanent U.S. resident.

In looking at which talents may or may not be cut, we must also concern ourselves with the idea that certain players might still show up to camp whose rights are held (Fucito, Karkas, Parke) and that a few players may still sign with Seattle as the MLS transfer window does not close until March 15th.

Forwards
Sigi's Crew carried 7 forwards when adjusted for the smaller roster, a typical MLS club carried five, currently 6+1

Seattle brings the following forwards south to Oxnard, CA according to Jose Romero.
Nate Jaqua
Sebastien Le Toux (I)
Roger Levesque
Fredy Montero (I)
Jarrod Smith (I)
Steve Zakuani (I, GA, DV)

Mike Fucito's MLS rights are still held by SSFC. He is still recovering from his hamstring issue, and a Harvard student. Graduation is June 4th, with a heavy June and soft July schedule I still hope we can see Fucito in Rave Green to join the exhausting August. The team is now listing Fucito as a Midfielder, he played at Harvard as a Striker, and his MLS role seems likely to be a Winger quite similar to Zakuani.

Midfielders
Crew had 8, MLS had nearly 9, current 9

Osvaldo Alonso
Brad Evans
Stephen King
Freddie Ljungberg (I, DP)
Sanna Nyassi (I)
Leighton O'Brien
Khano Smith
Nathan Sturgis
Peter Vagenas

Osvaldo and Khano both do not count as Internationals.

Defenders
Crew 7, MLS 7, current 9+2

Evan Brown
Taylor Graham
Patrick Ianni
Danny Jackson
James Riley
Zach Scott
Tyson Wahl
Adam West
Mandou Bojang

Jared Karkas, left wingback out of Asuza Pacific, and Jeff Parke are both not with the team. Seattle Sounders FC will hold their MLS rights if they remain unsigned. Jackson would count as an International, but is currently not signed. Romero states that Bojang is unlikely to be going to the California training. Mandou was a defender with connections to Sanna Nyassi in Gambia.

Keepers
Crew 3, MLS 3, current 4

Ben Dragavon
Chris Eylander
Jordan Jennings
Kasey Keller

From the numbers the easiest battles to figure out are at Keeper where Jennings and Dragavon battle to prove that the Sounders should carry a third keeper. Both would qualify to have a place on the Developmental Roster.

In defense there seems to be a battle between West, Scott, Jackson and Karkas for 1 or 2 slots. Both West and Karkas qualify as Developmental players. Jackson's partnership with Graham has been great in the past, has a cup of coffee with the Rapids and Adrian Hanauer worked hard to get Visa issues sorted out last year. Parke is on a quest to Europe and would serve a 5 match suspension if/when he returns to MLS.

At Midfield the issue is really the injury of Vagenas and whether that opens up the opportunity for Leighton to make the club. O'Brien can play any offensive midfield role, but his specialty is as a CAM, and might be a decent back-up for Ljungberg, although I expect Evans in that role when Ljungberg's health causes him to miss a match.

The Forwards seem set. Levesque brings so much versatility to the table having been used in nearly every role on the pitch last year. Every team needs that kind of supersub. Fucito likely faces the difficult choice of Developmental money, playing overseas or using that Harvard education.

Lastly, the Super Search would have a player make the Developmental Roster, and that likely nudges a current trainee off of the club. While unconventional, capturing that kind of talent and publicity might be worth it. Five more players will be cut, without any international signings and none of the upcoming cuts will be of players who are not of MLS quality with the rules as they are. With less than 7 weeks left we have a fairly good idea of who will be on the club.

IF you are going to be at the SuperSearch feel free to seek me out. I'll be the guy in the Starbucks soccer jersey (its white with black/yellow). Oh, and plenty of layers underneath, it should be chilly.