It seems like a long, long time since the Seattle Sounders failed to advance past a plucky FC Dallas team in the Western Conference semifinals. Besting the LA Galaxy in those playoffs was a long time coming for Seattle, but it didn't do anything to satisfy the singular stated goal of the front office since taking home the Supporters' Shield in 2014: Win the MLS Cup.
GM Garth Lagerwey and the rest of the front office put a lot of eggs in the 2015 basket, spending nearly every dollar of cap room and allocation money available to bring in Erik Friberg, Roman Torres and Nelson Haedo Valdez in midseason, knowing that cap compliance would be a mess going into 2016. So much so, in fact, that when a new influx of Targeted Allocation Money was announced for the league, Lagerwey said the Sounders had essentially already spent it.
Fans prepared for a quiet offseason, or worse -- a big subtraction without much addition. Instead, the Sounders have been active, not dismantling the team but trimming and redesigning it, always with the hope that one big new signing would be forthcoming in the form of a local kid who wouldn't touch the cap at all.
With Jordan Morris comfortably in the fold, the roster is now "pretty close to set," Lagerwey told KJR's Softy Mahler, with only a few roster spots left for trialists and draftees to fight over in the preseason. That means it's time for us to look back at the last two months as a whole and consider what has brought us to this point as training begins for 2016.
Part of the reason 2015 was such an 'all or nothing' year was that a lot of the Sounders quality depth was aging into retirement. Indeed, on December 2, the Sounders declined the options on nine players, five of whom were on the far side of 30. Those nine were: Micheal Azira, Chad Barrett, Andrés Correa, Leo Gonzalez, Marco Pappa, Troy Perkins, Gonzalo Pineda, Zach Scott, Thomás.
Troy Perkins decided to end his playing career, taking a position as goalkeeping coach with the Sounders Academy.
Chad Barrett became one of MLS' first free agents under the new CBA agreement. He was later picked up by the San Jose Earthquakes. (But if it was up to him, he would have stayed)
Marco Pappa, due to his high price tag, was sent to the Colorado Rapids in exchange for Allocation Money.
Micheal Azira was picked up by Colorado in the only move of the MLS Waiver Draft. He joins Marco Pappa in the Rockies.
Thomás is still under contract with Flamengo in Brazil, and has been loaned again to a second-division Brazilian club, Joinville Esporte Clube, according to Transfermarkt.
Andrés Correa has returned to Colombia to play with Boyacá Chicó F.C.
Among those whose options were exercised was Lamar Neagle. But he was shipped off to DC United early in the offseason in exchange for a combination of Allocation Money and Targeted Allocation Money.
Andy Rose was offered a new contract by the Sounders, but chose to join Coventry City FC of England's League One after a successful trial there.
One final and controversial departure was of course that of Ross Fletcher. At this point it's anyone guess how the Sounders will replace him in the broadcast booth.
As with any silly season, there were rumors. Whispers of players on the Sounders radar or clubs looking to steal away top players. This time out has been a little nerve-wracking because there was much more of the latter.
One discussion that was put to rest immediately was the status of head coach Sigi Schmid. Lagerwey was clear: "Sigi will be our coach. Sigi is my coach."
Of the moves that would have felt like a major rebuild, trading Osvaldo Alonso may have been at the top, but that was the word on the street, that the Sounders were shopping Ozzie in MLS. Lagerwey acknowledged that the "market will determine" where Alonso plays. The market seems to have determined that he will stay in Seattle.
Obafemi Martins was as always the subject of rumors, and he doesn't seem to shy away from them. Newcastle and Sunderland may have wanted him on loan. Earlier in January, Oba dispelled unnamed rumors and said he was happy as a Sounder. He was later linked to Aston VIlla and another EPL club.
Jordan Morris joins Sounders, finally
This was the big move. Here's everything you need to know about the signing.
The Sounders entered the MLS Superdraft with the 15th, 27th, 35th, 54th, and 76th picks. They left with left back Joevin Jones, Cal-State Dominguez Hills centerback Tony Alfaro, Duke midfielder Zach Mathers, Nebraska Omaha midfielder Emir Alihodzic and Old Dominion defender Michael Nelson.
Jordan Morris is now a professional, first-team Sounder.
It's worth mentioning Joevin Jones again here. He was a draft-day trade and a regular starter for his former club Chicago Fire. The Sounders sent their first pick (15) and Allocation Money to Chicago to pick up the Trinidad & Tobago international who slots in immediately as the presumed left back of choice.
Seattle has brought Andy Craven back up to the MLS roster after his recovery from injury. They also signed S2 goalkeeper Tyler Miller to a first team contract. He also dealt with injury last year.
The team added their sixth Homegrown Player in Sounders academy and University of Denver standout Jordan Schweitzer. The central midfield distributor was at first headed for the Combine, but now provides depth and future upside in the Sounders midfield.
The Sounders picked up veteran midfielder Michael Farfan. He has played for DC United, Philadelphia Union and Liga MX's Cruz Azul. He had previously trialed with the Sounders.
State of the roster
Thanks to Dave Clark, we have the current state of the Sounders FC roster, and what the academy has in the pipeline. This depth chart will change throughout the preseason. There are a few roster spots up for grabs, and Sounders FC 2 contracts will be offered to some of those that don't make it.
This is how the Sounders have navigated the 2015/2016 offseason. The fears (or hopes) of losing a DP to make cap room or to sign a midfield DP can be put aside for now. Some Sounders favorites are gone, and plenty of young blood waits in the wings.
Things look good on paper, but we won't know the full impact of these moves until some version of this roster takes the field against Club America in CONCACAF Champion's League on February 23, and against Sporting Kansas City on March 6.