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Best XI of Sounders late acquisitions

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This story first appeared on Frank MacDonald's personal website. It was reproduced here with his permission.

Clint Dempsey may be biggest name late-season acquisition, but was he the best?
Clint Dempsey may be biggest name late-season acquisition, but was he the best?
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

This week marks the arrival to Sounders FC training of late-season acquisition Onyekachi Apam. It remains to be seen whether Apam will get sufficiently fit for a debut this season, but the measure of such a roster move is rarely measured in the first few weeks.

Looking back over 40 years, Seattle has often added personnel past the halfway point of the season who have proven integral to success, both in the short and long run. Perhaps Apam will be such a player. Time will tell.

Signing strikers is sexy, midfielders not so much and defenders less so. Yet as you read on, some have helped save the day, if not win it.

Therefore, here are XI Late Great Additions in Sounders history:

XI - 2005: Leighton O'Brien returns from RSL and anchors midfield while two months after defecting during Gold Cup games in Seattle, Cuban forward Maykel Galindo signs for Seattle. His debut does not come until the final regular season match (Apam, take note), and he scores just one goal, but it's the late equalizer in the USL final versus Richmond. Although plagued by injuries he draws interest from Chivas USA and prospers for the Goats in 2007, totaling 12 goals.

X - 1996: Niall Thompson is bought from Montreal after top scorer Chance Fry is lost to a broken leg. Thompson is unable to fill Fry's boots during the regular season. In the playoffs, however, his touch is golden. He scores three goals in the semifinal series upset of Colorado and queued the championship celebration when he laid onJoey Leonetti's  second goal versus Rochester.

IX - 2012: Of three summer signings (Christian Tiffert and Marcus Hahnemann were the others), Mario Martinez may be remembered most. On loan from Real Espana, Martinez struggles to find playing time in midfield. Presented with an opportunity in the deciding second leg at Real Salt Lake, his late goal gives the Sounders their first playoff advancement.

VIII - 1980: Jeff Bourne is acquired by former Derby County teammate Alan Hinton to bolster front line of Roger Davies and Mark Peterson. Bourne is coming off 59 goals in 100 NASL games for Atlanta. While Bourne adds 2 goals and 2 assists largely as a sub that season, he leads Sounders in scoring during the winter indoor season and as part-time starter in '81 totals 9 goals in all competitions, including 3 in 3 games of Trans-Atlantic Cup as Seattle claims its first trophy.

VII - 2007: Taylor Graham's second coming begins in July, with Seattle jostling with Portland and Montreal for the USL Commissioner's Cup. With Graham in the back four, the Sounders win 11 and draw twice-12 clean sheets-in the final 15 matches over all competitions to claim the Cup, the championship and advancement to the Open Cup semifinal.

VI - 1995: A year after being denied the A-League crown in the semifinals, Hinton moved for Dominic Kinnear and Brian Haynes to help ensure a successful run in. The Sounders were essentially unbeaten (2 shootout losses) in the last 9 games as they earned a first championship.

V - 2009: Leo Gonzalez arrives after Gold Cup duty with Costa Rica to solidify the left back situation. He starts the final 14 matches. Sounders FC wins its first Open Cup and goes 6-2-3 to finish the regular season, allowing only 9 goals. Moreover, Gonzalez become the dependable first choice ever since, earning team defensive MVP in 2013.

IV - 2013: Clint Dempsey undoubtedly makes the most heralded arrival from Spurs. Initially the club prospers, winning 6 of 7. Yet a tailspin ensues and the Sounders win only once in the final 10 starts, Dempsey scoring just once. He has risen to meet, and perhaps exceed, expectations in 2014, accounting for 13 goals in 22 appearances. The Sounders win their fourth Open Cup on his extra time strike and remain frontrunners for the Supporters' Shield. Should they take the Double or Treble, Deuce moves to the top of the list.

III - Seattle swoops for two DPs, both Alvaro Fernandez and Blaise Nkufo coming directly from World Cup duty in South Africa. In his second appearance, Flaco sends the Rave into the CCL group stage with his goal at Metapan. Later, in league play, he clinches the playoff berth at KC. Nkufo eventually settles in and leads the line. His account opens with the club's first hat trick at Columbus, followed by a late winner the next outing at Chicago.

II - 1982: Kenny Hibbitt is landed in a loan deal with Wolves, where's been an attacking midfield fixture for 13 years. Hibbitt's immediate effect is to raise play of everyone around him. Seattle surges down stretch, winning 15 and drawing (then shootouts) 2 in final 22 matches while scoring 3 or more goals 12 times. In three-day span of semifinals Hibbitt scores two overtime winners, sending Seattle into Soccer Bowl.

I - 1977: Journeyman forward Tommy Ord is purchased from Vancouver, where he had been deployed in midfield, contributing 3 goals and 3 assists. Seattle, his 5th team in four years, is 10-10 when Ord arrives. His impact is almost instantaneous; in his second start Ord scores the first-ever Sounders hat trick in 4-1 win at Connecticut. Seattle proceeds to win 8 of the next 9, staging upsets of Vancouver, Minnesota and LA in the playoffs to reach the NASL final against the Cosmos. Ord scores in that game and, all told, finishes with 9 goals and 4 assists. Clearly, he helped make Sounders extraordinary.