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Ghosts of Sounders Past - Where Are They Now?

Former Sounders include Freddie Ljungberg who now plays in the J-League.
Former Sounders include Freddie Ljungberg who now plays in the J-League.

The MLS incarnation of the Seattle Sounders is a very young franchise with only three seasons under its belt. That combined with the relative lack of player movement in the single-entity MLS means that there really aren't that many ex-Sounders. But I thought it'd be nice to take a look back at some Sounders of yore and see what they're up to now. Note that the statistics here are from MLS competitions only since I can't find all-competition stats for 2009 anywhere (possibly a project for the future). That also means there are some players (like Kevin Forrest and Jarrod Smith) who don't make the list due to never appearing in a league match.

I also won't include players who've left the team this offseason, since we haven't even seen a match without them yet.

Sebastien Le Toux Seasons Games Current Club
2009 28 Philadelphia Union

After making himself a fan favorite for the USL Sounders in 2007 and 2008, Le Toux was one of the players chosen to stay with the team in the transition to MLS. In the club's inaugural season he was used primarily as a high motor supersub and a key player in cup competition. With only 1 goal in MLS play, he was a fairly uncontroversial choice to be left off of Seattle's protected list in the Philadelphia Union's expansion draft, but it turned out to be a poor move in hindsight when he became the Union's leading scorer and finished the season as an MVP candidate. His 2011 season began more muted as he struggled to play well with new forward partner Carlos Ruiz and through coach Peter Nowak's sometimes unflattering decisions (like giving Le Toux significant minutes at right back late in games), but he finished the season strongly and shows no signs of slowing.

Stephen King Seasons Games Current Club
2009 10 DC United

Noted horror author King was selected from the Chicago Fire by the Sounders in their expansion draft and made a handful of appearances (mostly as a sub) in the midfield. He didn't get any playing time in 2010 and was traded halfway through the season to DC for a second-round pick so he could be nearer his hometown. He played consistently for United that year and remains a squad rotation player for them.

Chris Eylander Seasons Games Current Club
2009 1 None

Eylander was a local Sumner-born stalwart after playing college soccer for the Huskies for 4 seasons and then taking over in goal for the USL-1 Sounders from 2006 to 2008. He moved up with the team into MLS but he played behind noted big, tall, motherf%$&*ing wall Kasey Keller and made only appearance for the team (when Keller was was serving a red-card suspension) in the inaugural season and was waived before the start of the 2010 season when the team decided that in the absence of a reserve league they could only afford to carry two keepers and he lost out in the backup competition to Terry Boss.

It seems like he hasn't officially retired, but he has a day job and spent last season helping coach the Sounders Academy goalkeepers.

Tyrone Marshall Seasons Games Current Club
2009-10 55 Colorado Rapids

Marshall was traded from Toronto FC to the Sounders before the inaugural match and became an everyday center back for the team through the first season and a half. In the latter half of 2010 the veteran started losing minutes to a three man rotation with Patrick Ianni and Jeff Parke. And with Jhon Kennedy Hurtado coming back from a long-term injury the team was stacked at the position, so he entered the Re-Entry Draft at the end of the season and was picked up by the Rapids on a renegotiated contract. He started the entire season for Colorado alongside Marvell Wynne and despite celebrating his 35th birthday this month he's on track to suit up for the team again next season.

Sanna Nyassi Seasons Games Current Club
2009-10 50 Montreal Impact

Nyassi was picked up by the Sounders before the 2009 season (and was even loaned back to the USL Sounders for 4 games). His pace immediately became a key weapon in an offense that wanted speed on the wings to generate the attack and he regularly featured across the field from Steve Zakuani, particularly in 2010 when competition from Freddie Ljungberg for the right wing slot largely disappeared. Though his pace and ferocity never deserted him, his crossing ability and composure on the ball never developed enough for him to match Zakuani in offensive quality. Despite being the first player in the modern era to score multiple goals in the US Open Cup final to secure the second consecutive Cup for Seattle, he was left exposed in the 2010 expansion draft (in favor of Mike Fucito, it was generally suspected). He was taken as the first overall pick in the draft by Vancouver — to be subsequently traded to the Colorado Rapids.

He had a decent 2011 season with Colorado, featuring his unique blend of lethal attacking speed and wayward crosses, and led the team in shots taken by a mile. But he was again left exposed for an expansion draft and was selected by the Montreal Impact.

Nathan Sturgis Seasons Games Current Club
2009-10 40 Houston Dynamo

Sturgis was picked up from Real Salt Lake in the expansion draft and spent most of the first season as an occasional sub. In 2010 he became a regular starter as a midfield partner for Osvaldo Alonso and played well enough to keep the role. He was another primarily defensive midfield player (evidenced by his one career goal — from the penalty spot), which coach Schmid evidently preferred in the central midfield in order to allow the wide midfielders to move into the attack, but this occasionally frustrated fans. And his strong preference to pass to the right became something of a liability when Seattle's best offensive threat was nearly always just ahead and to the left.

He was also left exposed in the 2010 expansion draft and was also selected by Vancouver, who immediately traded him to Toronto. He became a midfield rotation player in an awful 2011 season (though staying in Vancouver wouldn't have been any better) and then was traded to the Houston Dynamo last week.

Freddie Ljungberg Seasons Games Current Club
2009-10 37 Shimizu S-Pulse

The international superstar Ljungberg was one of three marquee signings (along with Keller and coach Sigi Schmid) made before the team's first game that communicated that the team was planning on being competitive from day one. He was also the team's first Designated Player and despite a somewhat contentious period with the club his performance on the field was excellent and he stands as one of the better DP signings in the history of the league.

Unfortunately, he never seemed to come to terms with the physical nature of MLS play and the 'quality' of MLS officiating. He also began to suffer from increasingly frequent migraines and nagging injuries that limited his time on the field. His frustrations and those of the club evidently increased to the point that midway through the 2010 season after a nearly disastrous first half for the team he was traded away to the Chicago Fire for essentially nothing. He finished out the 2010 MLS season there before signing on for a few appearances with Celtic. In September, he signed with Japanese side Shimizu S-Pulse.

Peter Vagenas Seasons Games Current Club
2009-10 24 None

Vagenas spent 9 seasons with the Galaxy — including an MLS Cup winning season as captain under head coach Sigi Schmid — before being chosen by the Sounders in their expansion draft. He was primarily a sub, though he spent some significant time in the midfield during periods when the team was injury-plagued. He was a controlled, calming presence in the midfield (and reportedly in the locker room), though his general lack of interest in getting the ball forward into the attack occasionally frustrated offense-hungry fans and earned him the nickname Passback Pete.

After the 2010 season he was traded to Colorado for two players who never made an appearance for Seattle and almost immediately became a free agent when he cleared the Re-Entry Draft. After a couple of months he was picked up by Vancouver to help solidify their midfield. After the 2011 season he again cleared the Re-Entry Draft and remains a free agent.

Blaise Nkufo Seasons Games Current Club
2010 16 Retired

Nkufo joined the Sounders midway through the 2010 season as another heralded big-money European veteran. He had just finished a World Cup run with the Swiss national team and capped an 8 year stint with Dutch team FC Twente with their first Eredivisie title — for which they erected a statue of him outside the stadium. He played well for the team in the second half of the year — including a hat trick in a now annual demolition of Columbus — but it was clear he was not 100% comfortable with the role of a target man in the often brutally physical and loosely officiated MLS. That discomfort came to a head over the offseason and he and Seattle mutually terminated his contract literally minutes before the kickoff of the 2011 season, which would clear salary space for the season. He announced his retirement from the game shortly thereafter.

And that's it. Those are the only players who've played at least one game for the club and weren't on the roster at the end of the 2011 season. Now we wait for next offseason's update, which we already know will include at least 9 players.

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