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The state of the Sounders roster

The roster may be full, but there's still some room for maneuvering.

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

In the span of a few days, the Seattle Sounders signed two players and effectively filled up their roster. Andy Craven was signed from S2 on Saturday -- and made his debut on Sunday against the Portland Timbers -- and Erik Friberg was officially unveiled on Monday. The Sounders also revealed that Gonzalo Pineda and Marco Pappa had acquired green cards, meaning two international roster spots are now open.

And while all of that seems straightforward enough, this is MLS and nothing is ever quite as it seems.

If my math is right, the Sounders have 29 players on their roster. Isn't the roster limit 28?

Ah yes, MLS roster rules... they can be tricky. In this case, we're told that while the roster limit is 28 players, there's effectively a 29th roster spot available as long as it is filled by a third goalkeeper. In the Sounders' case, that's Charlie Lyon, who has spent all season playing with S2.

But 29, that's it, right? No more changes?

Well, kinda.

Oh, come on!

Even without the obvious exception of a player being traded, the Sounders could still open up a roster spot by using the disabled list. It gets a bit tricky, but you may have noticed that there's a rather long list of Sounders dealing with injuries. As long as they are willing to guarantee that player will be out for at least six weeks, that player can be placed on the disabled list and have their roster spot temporarily opened up.

But what happens if they sign someone and want to take that injured player off the disabled list?

Although the Sounders are operating under the assumption that all players' contracts are now guaranteed -- in the past the contract guarantee date was June 30 and that will likely be the case whenever the new CBA is ratified -- they could simply designate a different player for the disabled list, up to four of them.

At what point must the juggling stop?

The roster compliance date for the MLS Cup playoffs is Sept. 15. Once that day comes, the Sounders and every other MLS team need to have a roster set for the post season. But until then, they have room to maneuver.

Does that mean the Sounders could still have a big signing in the works?

That sure seems like the implication to me and today's news about MLS potentially allowing something called a "core DP" lends some credence to that kind of thinking.

Tell me more about this "core DP".

There's not a ton of information out there, but the basic idea is that teams would effectively be allowed to sign a fourth Designated Player. How the mechanism would work, exactly, is apparently still being worked out.

Any idea what kind of player the Sounders would target?

We hear this guy is available.

So, you're saying the Sounders are going to sign Fredy Montero?

Me? No, I didn't say that. I'm just saying, he's available. Plus, he's on the league's "allocation list" so the Sounders would probably need to work out some kind of trade to get him or the league would need to change its rules on the fly, which is just crazy!

OK, any other surprises?

Not at the moment, but never say "never" when it comes to MLS surprising you.

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