The Sounders may or may not have already come to an agreement with Uruguayan national team player Alvaro Fernandez and I'm of the mind that their official statement does nothing to dampen that speculation:
"The club is continuing to look at all options to improve the squad during the transfer window. We are aware there are several reports circulating, but we have no comment at this time. If a move is made, then we will make an announcement."
What this doesn't say, to me, is as important as what it does say. Namely, there is not a denial of any deal being imminent. Of course, that's also a long ways from confirming that a deal has been reached.
Here's what we know:
- In the video linked above, Fernandez does seem to indicate that he's going to the United States to play for a MLS team in the state of Washington (my Spanish is less than fluent, so please set me straight if I've misinterpreted that)
- The Sounders do have an open international roster slot, as Jhon Kennedy Hurtado does not count against their limit of eight
- There's a decent chance that there are enough loopholes in the salary cap to allow for Fernandez's signing, one way or the other, without first taking care of Freddie Ljungberg's situation
In absence of official information, the best we can do is speculate as to what happened today (and keep in mind that this is pure semi-educated conjecture).
I think there's a decent chance that the Sounders have, in fact, come to agreement to sign Fernandez, a player who appears to fit their current need of a playmaking midfielder. The deal may be awaiting final approval or can not be made official until there is cap room and roster space, which could be accomplished by finding a home for Ljungberg.
With Ljungberg no longer with the team for all intents and purposes -- he wasn't at practice today, and hasn't been seen with the team for quite some time now -- and apparently not going to New York, which has apparently already signed Mexican national team player Rafael Marquez, the Swede's status appears to be in limbo.
One possible way around this may involve Fernandez being signed at the league minimum for the remainder of the season. As far as we know, league-minimum players can be signed whether or not there is cap space. I would assume a deal like this would flout the letter of the law, but might be allowed with the understanding that Ljungberg is no longer playing for the team.
The other possibility would involve the Sounders making roster space by placing another player on the injured reserve, signing Fernandez as a Designated Player and paying down the cap hit to zero with allocation dollars.
(Man, it sure would be nice if instead of linking to the old CBA, MLS's website could at least provide us with up-to-date rules on roster moves so that I could figure out if any this is really possible.)
Of course, this could all be based on bad information. Maybe Fernandez misinterpreted something his agent told him. Maybe the Sounders are totally stuck until they find a home for Ljungberg. Maybe there will be a big announcement tomorrow and all this conjecture was ultimately meaningless (and that's what a Uruguayan website is saying). Until then, feel free to come up with your own theories.