Most of the Seattle Sounders’ office staff has officially started their winter break, meaning there’s unlikely to be much “official” news coming out of the team until they return around Jan. 8 and begin preparing for preseason in earnest.
Given that, now is probably a good time to take stock of the roster, look back on what’s been accomplished and what is still left to do.
What the roster looks like now
Who's leaving: The two biggest changes to the Sounders' roster is the departures of Nicolás Lodeiro and Héber. Those two roster spots free up about $1.7 million in actual salary cap space between them, which sets the table for some notable moves. Other players who have already left or appear to be as good as gone are Ethan Dobbelaere (already signed with D.C. United), AB Cissoko (out of contract) and Stefan Cleveland (option declined). There still does appear to be a chance that at least one of Fredy Montero (out of contract) or Kelyn Rowe (out of contract) will be back, but no one seems to be in too big of a rush to get those finalized.
Who's coming back: The most notable player who was due to be out of contract, but will definitely be back is Stefan Frei. He signed a two-year extension that will keep him Rave Green through 2025. Alex Roldan still had an option year in 2025, but also signed an extension that will keep him around until at least 2026. There was also some questions around whether or not the Sounders would pick up the options on Albert Rusnák and Xavier Arreaga, but they exercised both. For Rusnák, who will remain as a Designated Player, the Sounders seem to have decided to give him an extended look as more of an attacking player and is someone they'll probably build around at least in 2024. There's less clarity around Arreaga, who could be back as a third centerback but might also be traded if the Sounders get an offer they believe meets their valuation. More expectedly, the Sounders exercised the options on Josh Atencio, Yeimar Gomez-Andrade, João Paulo, Jackson Ragen, Dylan Teves, Paul Rothrock, Andrew Thomas and Jacob Castro.
Who's been added: Perhaps the most consequential addition the Sounders have made this offseason was a trade with the Columbus Crew that netted them $325,000 in General Allocation Money in exchange for two international roster spots. That leaves them with six spots, only two of which are currently occupied and there are rumors that Léo Chú and Yeimar are close to acquiring their green cards which would free those up as well. Braudilio Rodrigues is the only new player they've actually signed, but he's surely more of a depth attacking piece. The Sounders picked up Jonathan Bell from St. Louis City in the Re-Entry Draft and have apparently offered him a bonafide offer, which means they control his MLS rights. My suspicion is that Bell is more of a Cissoko replacement than anything else. They also picked Kalani Kossa-Rienzi, Antino Lopez and Buba Fufanah in the SuperDraft. There's maybe an outside chance that Kossa-Rienzi makes the first-team roster, but don't be surprised if he ends up going back to UW to finish his college career before coming back for another chance in 2025. Lopez and Fufanah are much more likely to be destined directly for Defiance.