TUKWILA, Wash. — There was a somewhat surprising face participating in Seattle Sounders training on Friday, their first public session since Sunday’s win. Sure enough, Alvaro Fernandez was there going through the paces just as he had the day before that game.
What made this somewhat surprising was that Fernandez has already gone public with the revelation he’s likely played his final game at CenturyLink Field. There was then a report in the Seattle Times that suggested the Sounders were ready to part ways effectively now.
On Friday, though, the door on Fernandez’s immediate future didn’t sound quite as shut.
Head coach Brian Schmetzer said Fernandez was among the players under consideration for Tuesday’s US Open Cup game against the Portland Timbers and GM Garth Lagerwey even struck a somewhat conciliatory tone.
“It will be a friendly conversation,” Lagerwey said when asked when a final departure date would be determined. “We’ll tell you guys when something is definitive and settled.
“What he said the other day was from a heart-felt place. We share his belief that he was saying something sincere, something honest and I think he appreciated his time here and I wanted to make sure to say I appreciated him. Whether or not we wanted to speak about this before we had everything ironed out, that’s not important as the sentiment.”
Although Fernandez’s contract runs through the end of June, having some flexibility on when he leaves would be helpful for him finding his next job.
“His attitude has never flagged, his effort has never flagged, he’s been a great pro, he’s been a great influence on our younger players,” Lagerwey said. “It’s definitely sad to see him go but that’s the business we’re in unfortunately. If he needs to get out of here a couple weeks ahead of time, we’re going to accommodate that because it’s the right thing to do for someone who’s earned it.”
This all comes at an interesting time for the Sounders, who are currently without six players on international duty, leaving them short-handed. Somewhat offsetting those absences, though, is the return from injury of Henry Wingo (ankle), Harry Shipp (hip) and Aaron Kovar. Wingo and Shipp were both full participants in Friday’s session, while Kovar got his first minutes in about eight months in Sunday’s game. All three of them play similar roles as Fernandez and are likely ahead of him on the depth chart.
Fernandez’s impending departure also has the benefit of opening up not just an international roster spot, but also freeing up significant salary-cap space. Those are resources the Sounders will be able to put to use as soon as the summer transfer window opens on July 9.
“I don’t want to back us into corners, but we have the resources where in a perfect world we could sign a DP and a TAM,” Lagerwey said. “That doesn’t mean ‘Lagerwey promises DP and TAM’ but what it does is you take Flaco’s salary out of it … yes it helps.
“We are targeting a DP. It’s different than saying we’ve signed a DP. We’re not going to sign a DP just to live up to a pledge that we said we’d sign one. We are pretty far along with a couple of guys and hopefully we’ll have something.”