Seattle Sounders General Manager and President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey strolled into practice at Starfire with a smile on his face Thursday. “The window is closed; it’s a good day,” he said.
As was widely expected, the Sounders acquired midfielder Emanuel Cecchini on loan from Malága CF. Not nearly as anticipated, the Sounders also announced the signing of forward/midfielder Luis Silva on a free transfer from FC Honka of the Finnish first division, where he had three goals in 13 appearances this season. Prior to Finland, Silva spent eight seasons in MLS with Real Salt Lake, D.C. United, and Toronto FC.
Cecchini had been rumored for weeks, though there were some issues dealing with Malága, who is going through a restructuring of sorts. “There were some complications and some stuff that had to get figured out at the end,” Lagerwey said. “That’s the way some things evolve, but the bottom line is we got it done.”
Cecchini was present at practice and trained in full, even participating in the full-field scrimmage. He slotted in seamlessly in the midfield, mixing it up with his new teammates and getting on the ball.
“He’s a very flexible player; he’s played as both a six and an eight in Argentina,” Lagerwey said. “With a player like this it allows us to use Cristian in a couple of different spots; we can use Cecchini in a couple of different spots. Cecchini is a little bit better going forward than maybe some of the other choices that we had there, so if we want to play a different look, if you want to have a different matchup, we believe this addresses that.”
Coach Brian Schmetzer had a chance to briefly observe Cecchini during training—he was primarily focused on the starters Thursday—but liked what he saw from the midfielder. “He looked pretty good out there,” Schmetzer said. “Another critical piece so I can try and find a consistent lineup. Once we get the group together and set on some rotations and lineups, it will be good.”
Neither Cecchini nor Silva will likely be available for the weekend—Silva was expected to arrive in Seattle today, and Cecchini needs to secure his visa and ITC (Silva is American, so he only needs his ITC). And for Cecchini, there is still the issue of clearing up an international slot. The Sounders won’t have to make a decision until he is eligible essentially, but they have several options to resolve that issue, including obtaining an additional international slot or moving a player via trade or transfer.
“The roster freeze is August 30, so assets within the league can be transferred any time until then,” Lagerwey said. “Cecchini doesn’t have a work visa yet, so right now we only have eight guys that are eligible, so we have no issue as of today. If we have the high-class problem of having nine eligible foreign players, then we will go get a foreign spot. And the price of those in general tends to go down pretty precipitously, because they’re not worth a whole lot to the teams that still have them.”
In contrast to Cecchini and other high-profile deals the Sounders have done, Lagerwey said that the Silva deal came together in the last three or four days. Though he was under contract with FC Honka, Lagerwey said they were able to sign him when his Finnish side agreed to terminate his contract.
“You’re always talking around trade deadline, transfer deadline, and he popped up on our radar,” Lagerwey said. “His name came forward and that fits exactly what we were looking for. This is a guy who wants to chase a ring with us, and we added him.
“Knowing Will (Bruin) was out, can we find a guy who has done it in MLS. He’s got 30-some MLS goals, and I think its a good fit for him and a good fit for us.”
The addition of Silva adds a some additional depth and flexibility to the forward position, with Will Bruin out for the year, and Raul Ruidíaz dealing with some lingering injuries. “We’ve played against him many times, actually scored a good goal against us before he left,” Schmetzer said. “We just feel that he’s an experienced MLS forward. It helps us in case we run into any other injury bug, we got a player that has some experience.”
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