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MLS players union releases list of potential free agents

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Three free agency eligible Sounders are out of contract and six others have option years.

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

For the first time in its history, the MLSPA released a list of potential free agents heading into the offseason. The list of players includes both free-agent eligible players who are out of contract and those with currently unexercised options. Among that list are nine Sounders.

Notably, the list does not include players who lack the years of experience to make them eligible for free agency. Several more Seattle Sounders surely fall into this category. The newest CBA mandated that anyone who is at least 24 years old with five years of MLS experience is now eligible for free agency. It also removed previous caps on how many free agents a team could sign.

As a result, the number of eligible players more than doubled from previous offseasons and now promises to include several still in-their-prime players who could potentially bring numerous suitors. Among the notable names are New York City FC’s Maxi Moralez, the Portland Timbers’ Sebastian Blanco and Real Salt Lake Albert Rusnak.

Of those nine Sounders, the one most unlikely to return is probably Stefan Cleveland who is out of contract. The goalkeeper performed well during his 15 starts this year and will likely have plenty of suitors offering not only offering him a significant raise, but the promise of becoming a regular starter.

Another notable name on the list is Jordan Morris, who is entering the first of two option years on the contract he signed before the 2019 season. That deal reportedly paid him an average of about $1 million a year over the life of the deal and he’s been paid about $2.85 million over the first three years that included $1.27 million in guaranteed compensation this year, according to MLSPA data. Based on that information, his 2022 option is likely still well below the $1.65 million that would push him into “full DP” territory.

A day earlier, Sounders GM Garth Lagerwey told KJR that he’s expecting this to be a relatively quiet offseason: “I expect us to have the option to return virtually everybody on this team.”

While that promises to give the Sounders a solid foundation on which to build a potential 2022 Concacaf Champions League run, it also diminishes the chances of significant additions this offseason. Although João Paulo is expected to no longer qualify as a “full DP” since his transfer fee will come off the salary cap, that spot is likely to be left open. The new U22 Initiative allows teams to sign up to three such players, but only if the team limits itself to two players who are older than 23 and have combined salaries and transfer fees over $1.65 million.

Even if the Sounders maximized their spend by adding a Young DP and two more U22 players, it’s unlikely they’d find players who can both compete for meaningful minutes immediately and be signed during the normally less active winter transfer window.

Sounders’ potential free agents

Player Status 2021 guaranteed comp.
Player Status 2021 guaranteed comp.
Jordan Morris Option $1,270,100.00
Will Bruin Out of contract $458,333.00
Jordy Delem Option $194,000.00
Jimmy Medranda Option $190,000.00
Kelyn Rowe Option $180,000.00
Shane O'Neill Out of contract $115,000.00
Stefan Cleveland Out of contract $96,375.00
Spencer Richey Option $81,375.00
Fredy Montero Option $81,375.00
MLSPlayers.org