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Onyekachi Apam gamble appears to be a bust

The Nigerian center back surely won't suit up this year and it's entirely possible he won't return to Sounders in 2015.

Mike Russell/Sounder at Heart

Back in September, before the roster freeze, the Seattle Sounders made an under the radar signing of Onyekachi Apam, a 27-year-old Nigerian center back. People were excited. He was to be the AJ DeLaGarza partner the Sounders needed for Chad Marshall, because surely Zach Scott couldn't be the other CB that led Seattle to the Supporters' Shield and through the MLS Cup.

However, the move came with risks as Apam had only managed 23 appearances in three seasons with his previous team, the French side Rennes. Fitness and Health. Those were his concerns. That he was a last minute, sight-unseen flier that ended up costing Seattle a prorated $60,000 for the 2014 season, this deal seemed very low risk. If he works out, great. Well, about that...

"He’s coming along, but fitness-wise it’s just not coming along as quickly as it needs to be. There’s an (undisclosed) injury there too, an old injury that he’s trying to deal with, but in terms of his fitness and in terms of bringing him up to the standards that we think he needs to be at to be in this league, obviously right now it’s not there, and that’s why we haven’t put him into the 18 or even trained him outside.

"We have to reach a decision – he has to reach a decision, too. I think that’s something that will be happening in the next week or so, but right now I don’t see him being able to play."

- Sigi Schmid, via Tacoma News-Tribune

So low risk, high reward stuff doesn't always work out; trialist-turned-awesome Mauro Rosales and Gonzalo Pineda don't grow on trees. Whatever his health concerns, whatever his fitness, it's clear Apam won't suit up for Seattle in 2014, and now it appears he probably won't be a part of the team's plans in 2015. My prediction is that he'll be left unprotected in the expansion draft, and after a series of overly-optimistic propaganda tweets by the front office, Orlando City will choose him and his low salary.

This doesn't bode well for Seattle's future though, since the Sounders have never won a Supporters' Shield without Apam on the roster. This leaves Seattle with the following centerbacks: Chad Marshall, Zach Scott, Djimi Traore, Jalil Anibaba, Damion Lowe, Jimmy Ockford, and Eriq Zavaleta.

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