Despite being the worst-kept secret in Seattle (aside from the Nicolas Lodeiro signing), the Seattle Sounders announced on Thursday that they were re-signing former Sounders midfielder Alvaro "Flaco" Fernandez. Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey stressed that while the Sounders objectively valued Flaco as a player, the major reason for his signing was that he’s the perfect complement to Nicolas Lodeiro.
As he tries to transition the team into one that is focused on passing and possession, Lagerwey said that Fernandez fits the bill perfectly. "Flaco is another excellent technical player that can play from wide positions, from central positions, he’s a very good complement to a player like Nico."
Lagerwey had spoken in recent days about a "big board" of potential DP signings that the front office had, and that Lodeiro was number one on that list. For the club’s second signing, the decision was a little bit different. The second player, whether he would be TAM-level or otherwise, was very much dependent on the DP signing. After the Lodeiro signing was mostly official, Lagerwey said that he and the front office decided that "there literally isn’t a better player on the planet that you could add right now than Flaco. He’s literally played for the team, he’s been here. It works out well."
Lagerwey also made it clear that, even though he did say before the season that the second signing would be TAM-level, it just worked out better to get a guy like Flaco in for less at this point in the season. He said that "a lot of the TAM players tend to be younger with lower salaries and higher acquisition fees, and we concluded that bringing a young player into a difficult environment, we didn’t think that was a recipe for success."
Despite the uncertainty amongst the club this week, Lagerwey insinuated that Thursday’s training session was the most positive the club had been in quite awhile. "More people smiling, and it sounds like a silly things to say, but the group felt better today. There was more energy and dynamism." He said that this sort of attitude was what could help the club climb the "mountain" that’s in front of them: reaching the MLS Cup playoffs. "We have to average 2 points per game the rest, most of this same group did that last year toward the end of the season, so there’s no reason we can’t do that again." He said that with the new players coming in and Roman Torres, who they hope will return in less than a month, anything is possible.
As for the final week of the transfer window? Lagerwey wasn’t as dismissive as expected. "Don’t rule anything out, particularly within the league." He said that opportunities pop up out of nowhere within MLS, and that the club’s roster and cap flexibility would allow for more deals to be done if the right one came along. But Lagerwey stressed that signing Lodeiro and Fernandez were the "major acquisitions" of this window.
As for the length of each respective players’ deals, Lagerwey said that Lodeiro’s contract goes until 2019 with "options beyond that." As for Fernandez, he is on a much shorter deal, but "he can certainly be here through next year if it goes well and it works out."