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Trialists joining Sounders down in Tucson

Saad Abdul-Salaam will be getting a look with Seattle. Two other players seem more like Defiance candidates.

MLS: U.S. Open Cup-New York City FC vs New York Red Bulls Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Former New York City FC right-back Saad Abdul-Salaam is joining the Seattle Sounders down in Tucson next week, per the broadcast of Saturday’s loss to the Houston Dynamo in preseason action. Abdul-Salaam is out of contract, but received a bona fide offer from the Pigeons. Most of his starting time is as a right-back, with substitute appearances in right midfield and left-back as well. He just finished his fourth year in MLS with 49 starts over that stretch.

Abdul-Salaam made about $120,000 last year when he started in three matches and appeared in another, assisting twice in 273 minutes. He has 1 goal and 10 assists in his career from 4626 minutes played. Saad has been known to get forward in a wing-back role, despite mostly playing in a four-back set mode. His issues mainly deal with injury history, as he only started more than 10 times once, in 2016. While he isn’t goal dangerous, he can provide an effective cross from the flank.

His trial with the Sounders should be viewed as an opportunity to fill the now-vacant Waylon Francis role as the 5th fullback on the team at a much lower salary number.

Two other guest players, as they were called on the broadcast, entered the field with the swarm of Tacoma Defiance, Sounders Academy players, and draftees. Amr Mokhtar is a centerback who played with FC Tucson last year, while Kyle VanAlstine is a right-back who played with Metropolitan State University of Denver.

Mokhtar is a more intriguing prospect based on his resume. He’s a former Egyptian U20 player with three caps who has drifted through a bunch of lower level soccer teams. Amr was responsible for two of the Dynamo goals in the preseason match, but he was also part of a backline that featured Academy player Connor Drought at left-back, Defiance defensive midfielder Josh Atencio and fellow guest player VanAlstine. The players’ lack of experience together was obvious.

VanAlstine is from a small college in the Denver area where he played for a solid two years. He was also an FC Tucson player during their PDL era and played at Pima Community College in Tucson while a student there.

Both Amr and Kyle should be seen as potential Defiance players at best, and could possibly be part of the relationship with hosts FC Tucson as the Sounders did play a mini-game that involved some of their rotational players on MLS contracts and Defiance talents earlier in the day.

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