Almost from the moment the extent of João Paulo’s injury was known, there’s been a question about how the Seattle Sounders plan to replace their team MVP. Each time the question has come up, though, the Sounders have insisted that they believe in the defensive midfielder depth that’s already on the roster.
The Sounders have mostly used Obed Vargas alongside Albert Rusnák, but have also featured Josh Atencio, Danny Leyva, Kelyn Rowe and Cristian Roldan in those spots. Jimmy Medranda and Alex Roldan have previously played as defensive midfielders, as well.
Asked about it again on Sounders Weekly, GM and President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey made the firmest statement yet about the team’s plans.
“We have more depth at that spot than anywhere else on the field,” he said. “We literally have five options just off the top of my head.”
Lagerwey also confirmed that due to the timing of João Paulo’s injury — it happened the same day that the primary transfer window closed — the Sounders are not eligible to receive any salary-cap relief. With João Paulo hopefully returning early next year, it also doesn’t make any sense to invest a sizable chunk of the Sounders’ limited salary-cap space into the position.
“I don’t foresee us making any moves to replace JP,” Lagerwey said. “He should be back by early next year. Certainly, that’s our hope. Whether he makes it back for the Club World Cup remains to be seen but that’s our hope and ambitions. Bringing some player in — I guess you’d need to do it on loan — just doesn’t make sense, blocking all those talented young players.”