UPDATE: It would appear as though the deal is all but official. A Twitter account claiming to be Kim Kee-Hee’s has published a photo of what appears to be the player wearing a Sounders No. 20 jersey. The account is unverified, but has nearly 35,000 followers.
Earlier on Tuesday, a player looking an awful like Kim was photographed participating in training.
It would appear that the Seattle Sounders are about to fill one of the last remaining holes on their roster. A day after somewhat questionable reports first surfaced about the Sounders signing South Korea international Kim Kee-Hee, now comes word that his agent is telling the local press that a deal is effectively done.
Kim Kee-hee’s agent, Kim Jin-won, told the Korean media that he chose the Sounders after “turning down multi-million dollar offers from Saudi Arabia and UAE to go to a team that gives him the best chance to play in the World Cup this summer.”— Steve Han (@RealSteveScores) February 21, 2018
Sounder at Heart has been able to confirm that this is more than idle agent chatter, but that a deal is not yet signed. As such, it’s too early to get into any details of how the deal would be structured — we have no idea how similar it would be to the how they were able to get Gustav Svensson on the cheap, for instance — but the Sounders would be getting someone who would provide some impressive depth.
The downside is that there’s a pretty good chance Kim wouldn’t be available when the Sounders would be at their most short-handed, during the World Cup. South Korea doesn’t currently have any pre-World Cup friendlies on the schedule, but anyone who makes the roster will likely be asked to join national team camp at least a couple weeks before the tournament opens on June 17. World Cup participants will likely miss at least four (June 9 vs. D.C. United; June 13 at New York Red Bulls; June 23 vs. Chicago Fire; and June 30 vs. Portland Timbers). The good news is that South Korea is in the same group as Sweden, meaning one of Kim or Svensson will almost certainly be available after the group stage. The Sounders are also likely to be missing Nicolas Lodeiro (Uruguay) and Roman Torres (Panama) during that period.
While signing another player with potential to make a World Cup squad may seem counter-intuitive, there’s obviously a larger picture to consider. Kim won’t turn 29 until July and is an imposing physical figure with an impressive resume. If the cost of acquiring him is sharing him with a national team and all that entails, that’s one the Sounders have repeatedly proven willing to pay.