The list of players remaining from the Seattle Sounders' inaugural season in MLS is already down to two, and it could get smaller before the start of the 2016 campaign. Sounders GM Garth Lagerwey recently confirmed the club is open to trading Osvaldo Alonso, which would leave Brad Evans as the last remaining player from that 2009 squad.
"We get calls about lots of players a lot of the time, and our good players we get more calls about. Ozzie's a good player, and to whether he's here or somewhere else, that will depend on what the market tells us. And it will depend on whether or not it makes our team better. And if it does, we'll move him. And if it makes us better to keep him, we'll do that too. ...
"I don't know if he's going to stay with us or if he's going to go somewhere else. The market will determine that. We will determine that as to what's best for our team. And by the way, that's true not just of Ozzie, but of every player on our team."
While Lagerwey has previously acknowledged the possibility of moving Alonso, these quotes seem to be the most clear acknowledgement of Grant Wahl's report that the midfielder was being actively shopped.
That said, there's been no chatter that a trade is imminent. Somewhat complicating the situation is that Alonso is due to make somewhere in the neighborhood of $800,000 next season and may need to occupy a Designated Player spot. As good as Alonso is when he's at his best, that kind of form has been in short supply and few teams are willing to use a DP spot on a mostly defensive player.
The Sounders' ability to replace Alonso may also be a bit easier said than done, something Lagerwey also alludes to. Alonso's importance is felt not just in how well he shields the back four, but also in his ability to start counter-attacks. Even as diminished as Alonso may have been through an injury-riddled 2015, he completed a higher percentage of passes (92) than any player with at least 10 appearances.
There's also one way in which the Sounders could boost Alonso's trade value: By agreeing to "keep" part of his salary on their books and then using their once-a-year buyout on that sum. This was a maneuver the Portland Timbers used last year when they traded Donovan Ricketts to Orlando City.