Today we learned that the Seattle Sounders have chosen not to purchase Miguel Montano's contract from Argentinian side Quilmes. Although it has been pointed out that he is still essentially on trial with the Sounders and could still make the roster, I thought it would be worthwhile to get some some more clarification.
In talking to Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer, I'd say there's still a pretty good chance that Montano is brought back for at least this season on another free loan. I was also left with the clear impression that purchasing Montano's contract was always a bit of a longshot, at least based on what Sounders officials have seen of him so far.
As we learned when the Sounders brought in Alvaro Fernandez last year, transfer fees count toward a player's salary cap figure. Last year Montano was here on a free loan and made about $40,000. This year, he might make as little as $32,600 and none of that would count against the team's salary budget. If the Sounders had purchased Montano's contract, whatever they spent would have been prorated over the life of his contract along with his annual salary. Spending as little as $60,000 to buy his contract would have likely meant that Montano had to occupy one of the 20 senior roster spots. It should come as little surprise to anyone paying attention to the Sounders this preseason that there's a bit of a roster crunch and that flexibility is one of the major considerations.
More importantly, none of this means that Montano is unlikely to remain with the Sounders. Hanauer said they still like Montano's potential and he seems to have a good chance of making the team. It's also worth noting that since the Sounders have not owned Montano's rights at any point, Quilmes could have moved him all along. On some level, all parties involved seem reasonably satisfied to allow this situation to continue.
That the Sounders chose not purchase Montano's contract really doesn't appear to be an indication of anything other than the facing of the reality of MLS roster rules. In any case, this will most likely be resolved very soon considering the season starts in less than a week.