A couple of months ago, you may remember, Timo Hildebrand was training with the Seattle Sounders. The former German international was out of contract and was apparently interested in seeing what Major League Soccer had to offer. Hildebrand eventually signed with Eintracht-Frankfurt of the Bundesliga.
But after being buried on the bench as the team's third goalkeeper, there have recently been rumblings that the 35-year-old is looking to leave in January and possibly come to MLS. Although Hildebrand recently denied those rumors, it wouldn't be entirely crazy if he were to end up on the Sounders in 2015.
Back in September, it made no sense at all for Hildebrand to sign here. The Sounders were pretty well set at goalkeeper, with Stefan Frei playing well, Marcus Hahnemann as the veteran backup and Josh Ford the No. 3. Hildebrand, who was starting in Champions League games for Schalke as recently as March, would have probably been an upgrade, but not such a big one that it was worth upsetting the roster.
In January, though, there would be no such concerns. Hahnemann, 43, is probably going to retire after playing in just two U.S. Open Cup games this year and as good as Frei was down the stretch, it wouldn't be out of the question for the Sounders to ask him to beat out a player like Hildebrand for the starting job next year. If Hildebrand wins the starting job, Frei becomes a potential trading chip.
Of course, this assumes Hildebrand is interested in coming here and that the Sounders would be willing to pay what would likely be a significant chunk of money. Hildebrand has suggested he liked what the Sounders had to offer and the opportunity to at least compete for the starting job is surely better than sitting the bench with little hope of seeing any minutes in Germany.
But even if the Sounders are willing to pay Hildebrand, Frei has played well enough to at least give them pause about bringing in such a player. Frei is still just 28, might have another 10 years of high-quality play ahead of him and just finished a two-month run in which he was playing at as high a level as any goalkeeper in the league. He also made about $150,000 last year and even with a significant raise, would probably be substantially cheaper than Hildebrand.
This is by no means a no-brainer for the Sounders, but it's worth keeping an eye on.