UPDATE: Ivanschitz has officially joined Czech team Viktoria Plzen.
Although a return always seemed a bit unlikely, Andreas Ivanschitz made his departure from the Seattle Sounders official on Tuesday. The Austrian made the announcement on Twitter.
1/3 It's been a great pleasure being a part of the Sounders organization for the last 1 1/2 years... pic.twitter.com/n3HHt7B2cD— Andreas Ivanschitz (@andivan) January 18, 2017
2/3 I would like to thank my teammates, the coaching staff and every member in the front office for an incredible experience...— Andreas Ivanschitz (@andivan) January 18, 2017
Ivanschitz was among a group of veterans on whom the Sounders declined options and GM Garth Lagerwey had indicated that the midfielder was unlikely to return, even at a reduced salary. Fellow veterans Erik Friberg and Nelson Valdez have already signed with new teams, while Herculez Gomez announced his retirement. The only unsigned veteran whose future remains in apparent limbo is Tyrone Mears.
It’s unclear what, exactly, Ivanschitz plans to do, but he can probably extend his playing career if he desires. There are rumors that he will be signing with Viktoria Plzeň shortly. The team in Czechia is currently first in their division.
Despite battling injuries at various times during his season-and-a-half with the Sounders, Ivanschitz was reasonably productive. It’s almost impossible to imagine the Sounders making the playoffs in 2015 without his contributions, and he followed that up with a three-goal, eight-assist performance in 2016. Ivanschitz ended up with five goals and 10 assists in 40 regular- and post-season appearances.
When Ivanschitz was healthy, he was deadly on set pieces. Whether it was corners or free kicks, he ranks among the best the Sounders have ever had.
But with Nicolas Lodeiro taking over the set-piece duty down the stretch last year, and Harry Shipp being brought in this year, the Sounders were going to have a harder time justifying minutes for the 33-year-old.