One of the main dominoes for the Seattle Sounders summer transfer window plans fell on Wednesday when it was announced that they’d successfully extended Brad Smith’s loan at least through the end of the season.
With a little less than a week remaining until the window closes on Aug. 7, the Sounders should have a much better idea of what they need and what resources they have at their disposal.
What we see as their needs and what they see as their needs, though, may not be the same thing.
What do you think the Sounders need?
I was once convinced that the Sounders didn’t really need anything and so this was a sort of luxury-shopping window. But with the continued injury issues plaguing Victor Rodriguez, I no longer think he can be relied upon to be healthy when the team needs him most. If I was making the decisions, I’d target a player with that sort of skillset but who’s a bit younger and healthier.
What do you think the Sounders think they need?
They’ve been hinting for quite some time that they think the biggest priority is finding a longterm replacement for Gustav Svensson, who most seem to think will go back to Sweden following this season. It’s tempting to want to slot Danny Leyva into that spot, but his best position is still to be determined. Playing Cristian Roldan primarily as a No. 6 cuts out some of his best attributes and expecting Jordy Delem to be a championship-caliber holding midfielder does not seem wise. Bringing in someone from outside the organization makes sense.
Will the Sounders make that signing now?
That’s tougher to predict. Sounders GM Garth Lagerwey was asked about that during his Sounders Weekly spot and was very non-committal:
“I think the bigger point for us is we have a lot of confidence in our team. We believe in this group. We’re sitting second in the league right now, so objectively there’s some truth to that. I think the biggest thing we can do for our team is get Victor Rodriguez healthy, get Gustav Svensson healthy. Both of those guys have been out a bit, Raul Ruidiaz has missed more games than both of those guys (ed. note: it’s true). If we get our group together on the field, I think we’re very capable of going on a deep run in the playoffs and hopefully win another title. We think we have the horses. Do we think we can tweak some stuff and potentially add a piece? Yeah, it’s definitely possible and we’re working on some stuff.”
That doesn’t sound promising.
If you’re of the mind that the Sounders definitely need to add someone, it’s discouraging for sure. But it’s important to note that Lagerwey was singing a very similar tune last year and the Sounders eventually signed a DP forward and Smith and were close to signing Peruvian midfielder Paolo Hurtado until that fell apart at the last minute.
OK, but what kind of player would he sign?
It sure doesn’t sound like it will be an attacking piece, again from the KJR interview:
“I’ve read in some places that we need another attacking piece (ed. note: is he talking about us?!?!), but when you play Raul, and you play Jordan, and you play Victor and and you play nico — and by the way they’ve played together a grand total of four times this year — if you get those four together, I think we’re pretty good. And we have Joevin Jones who was playing in the 2. Bundesliga. On top of that, Harry Shipp has been a steady reliable player so we really like our options at that position. If we add a player somewhere else, maybe Cristian Roldan pushes up and joins that group.”
So someone like Emanuel Cecchini?
Yeah, that does seem to be the subtext, doesn’t it? Adding some more fuel to the fire is a recent revelation that Cecchini’s team, Spain’s Malaga CF, are being forced to clear some salaries and are banned from making new signings. That same report suggested that Cecchini was likely going to be moved to MLS.
Remind me about him.
Cecchini is a 22-year-old Argentinian midfielder. He had a breakout year for Banfield a couple years ago and parlayed that into a transfer to Malaga, but spent last year on loan to a couple different teams. One of those teams was Banfield, where he finished out the season as the team’s No. 6 after spending much of his career as a No. 8. His profile is of a good passer, a decent long-range shooter and someone who can defend well. The rumor is that the Sounders would pay a relatively small loan fee to get him through the end of the year and then have an option to buy him after that.
Anyone else we know about?
There have been a couple other defensive midfielders linked to the Sounders, but none quite as closely as Cecchini and there haven’t been any reports of players at other positions. The Sounders are generally pretty good about keeping a lid on rumors, so it’s hard to say how much we should read into that, but Cecchini appears to be the player they’ve focused in on.
Will that be enough?
As Lagerwey said, when fully fit the Sounders have the talent to compete with anyone and that includes LAFC. Of course, they’ve not been fully fit since the first month of the season and expecting them to be at the end of the season seems like a pretty big gamble. Cecchini would definitely give them some added flexibility and perhaps moving Roldan into the attacking band is enough, regardless of Rodriguez’s health. They’re not going to be favorites if they have to play LAFC on the road, but I wouldn’t count them out, either.