The Seattle Sounders waived Jordan McCrary and acquired Saad Abdul-Salaam in a trade with New York City FC in a pair of separate but likely related moves on Tuesday. The Sounders sent $50,000 in targeted allocation money to NYCFC for Abdul-Salaam’s MLS rights.
All preseason, there had been signs that McCrary’s spot on the team might be a bit tenuous. That Henry Wingo was seeing significant time at right back was one sign, especially after the Homegrown Player was drawing mostly positive reviews. But the real danger sign came when Abdul-Salaam joined training camp in Tucson, Ariz. The MLS veteran is three years removed from his breakout season with Sporting KC, but he does offer the sort of upside that McCrary probably doesn’t.
“We are pleased to welcome Saad officially into the club, after he showed his diverse skillset during preseason camp,” Sounders FC General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey said in a statement. “Saad has experience both at fullback and in central defense, and his athleticism will serve our team well across our backline. We are excited to see what he brings to the squad over the course of the season.”
Abdul Salaam’s best season came in 2016 when he notched six assists in about 2,400 minutes for Sporting KC. He lost his starting spot when Graham Zusi was moved to right back ahead of the 2017 season and was eventually traded to NYCFC where he was behind Anton Tinnerholm, who had four goals and six assists last year. Somewhat notably, Abdul-Salaam was also the player who took the infamous “double-post” penalty that helped the Portland Timbers on their way to the 2015 MLS Cup.
Abdul-Salaam will likely be competing with Wingo for backup minutes, but Kelvin Leerdam’s hold on the starting spot has looked more tenuous recently. If Abdul-Salaam can regain the form he showed in 2016, it’s not at all hard to imagine him overtaking the starting spot.
Losing McCrary is not without pain, though. Aside from proving himself a decent backup during his 15 appearances last year, McCrary was also a popular teammate.
“We would like to thank Jordan for his contributions in Seattle,” Lagerwey said. “Jordan was a true professional during his time with us and we wish him nothing but success on his next career step.”