The Seattle Sounders will start the offseason with a somewhat thinner roster than was expected, but will still likely open 2022 with a lot of familiar faces.
Although the Sounders announced that they had declined contract options on seven players, have three more out-of-contract players entering free agency, and still haven’t re-signed Alex Roldan, they also revealed that they are still in discussions with many of those players.
The players to have their options declined are Nicolas Benezet, Jordy Delem, Shandon Hopeau, Fredy Montero, Trey Muse, Spencer Richey and Kelyn Rowe. Will Bruin, Stefan Cleveland, Shane O’Neill are also out of contract and are now free agents along with Delem, Montero, Richey and Rowe. Benezet, Hopeau and Muse are not free-agent eligible. It’s entirely possible that most of these players will end up returning in 2022, just at lower contract numbers than their options had mandated.
As of now, the Sounders only have 19 players under contract after exercising the options on Xavier Arreaga, Josh Atencio, Abdoulaye Cissoko, João Paulo, Jimmy Medranda, Jordan Morris and Raúl Ruidíaz. Reed Baker-Whiting, Léo Chú, Ethan Dobbelaere, Stefan Frei, Yeimar Gómez Andrade, Danny Leyva, Nicolás Lodeiro, Nouhou, Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez, Cristian Roldan, Brad Smith and Andrew Thomas were all already under contract for 2022.
While most of these decisions are largely to be expected, one notable exception is Alex Roldan. Although the Sounders extended a “bonafide” offer to Roldan that allows them to retain his MLS rights, nothing is apparently stopping him from signing with a foreign team for free. Roldan enjoyed a breakout 2021 that not only included starting 27 league games, but earning an MLS All-Star Game start and establishing himself as a captain for El Salvador.
Losing Roldan, especially for free, would be a significant blow to the Sounders as they will need to hit the ground running when Concacaf Champions League play begins in mid-February. The closest thing to a right-sided defender currently on their roster is Dobbelaere, who began to transition to right wingback with the Tacoma Defiance this year.
We should know more about who might be back following Friday’s press availability.
Seattle Sounders roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): Stefan Frei, Andrew Thomas
DEFENDERS (6): Yeimar Gómez Andrade, Xavier Arreaga, Abdoulaye Cissoko, Jimmy Medranda, Nouhou, Brad Smith
MIDFIELDERS (8): Josh Atencio, Reed Baker-Whiting, Léo Chú, Ethan Dobbelaere, João Paulo, Danny Leyva, Nicolás Lodeiro, Cristian Roldan
FORWARDS (3): Jordan Morris, Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez, Raúl Ruidíaz