As anyone who has been remotely following along this offseason, the Seattle Sounders have gone through quite the roster overhaul. While it may appear to be settled, taking a quick glance at the roster suggests it might be a bit more fluid than I think it actually is.
According to SoundersFC.com, there are 30 players listed (not including Fredy Montero). That list includes all four of their recent draft picks. The Sounders have room for 30 players on their roster. Simple, right?
Not quite. Various reports have at least three players coming in on trial and there will probably be a few more. In addition to Martinique's Kevin Parsemain and Panama's Omar Browne, former D.C. United and Vancouver Whitecaps forward Long Tan is supposedly going to be at Sounders training. That puts the training camp roster at 33.
Based on past precedent, I'd only be comfortable saying 18 spots are literally guaranteed. I'd say three more spots are effectively guaranteed, with two more spots being potential salary-cap casualties and three more players "on the bubble." Even if all of those players were to make the roster, that still leaves four open spots for which at least seven players are competing.
Here's where I see the battles:
All but guaranteed (3): Damion Lowe, Eriq Zavaleta and Dylan Remick. Lowe and Zavaleta are Generation adidas, so unless they come in totally out of shape or forgot how to play soccer, they are going to make the team. Remick will be a minimum salary guy and is currently the only real backup left back. It's hard for me to see him not making the team, but I suppose stranger things have happened.
Bubble (3): Alex Caskey, David Estrada and Josh Ford. All three have made the roster at least twice before and don't make much money. Caskey and Estrada are worker-bee types who tend to be useful, even if somewhat limited. Ford has managed to stick around despite battling injuries every year. I really expect all three to make it, but I wouldn't consider them totally safe.
Salary considerations (2): Djimi Traore and Shalrie Joseph. I really expect Traore to make the team, but he will probably be making somewhere around $130,000 which isn't nothing. He needs to show he can be a positive influence and be capable of playing 15-20 games. Joseph's situation is a bit tougher. He's probably due to make about $300,000, which is a significant chunk of money even if he's the team's only true backup defensive midfielder. If the Sounders can get him back for about half of that amount and think he's fit, he could make the team. I'm just not sure he's willing to take less money after renegotiating his deal last year. He's probably the top candidate for a buyout.
Fighting for spots (5):
Blair Gavin, Will Bates, Jimmy Ockford, Stefano Rijssel and Fabio Pereira. These five spots are clearly the ones being held most tenuously. Gavin and Bates were both on the roster last year, but neither had any MLS appearances (and it turns out that Gavin has already been removed from the roster page after having his option declined). Ockford, Rijssel and Pereira were all picked in this year's draft. Ockford is probably the safest, if only because he was the highest draft pick and plays a position at which the Sounders are hoping to get younger. Rijssel might have the most to prove because the Sounders would need to pay a loan fee in order to secure his services.
Trialists (at least 3): Kevin Parsemain, Omar Browne and Long Tan. All three attacking players potentially have something to offer. But I think all three face significant challenges in order to make the roster. Parsemain and Browne may well require loan or transfer fees, while Tan has already spent two seasons in MLS without making a real impact. But all three are going to have to prove that they are clearly better than the options above them in order to make the roster, as I doubt they'll be getting any benefits of the doubt.
|Last name||First name||Position|
|All but guaranteed (3)|
|Salary Considerations (2)|
|Fighting for spots (5)|