Ever since Obafemi Martins' somewhat surprising departure, the sense has been that the Seattle Sounders would take stock of the team, park Osvaldo Alonso in the open spot over the short term and likely look to add a Designated Player in the summer transfer window along with another Targeted Allocation Money player.
That could still come to pass, but two bits of recent news suggest that the timeline may be a bit shorter than previously thought.
First, Grant Wahl reported the Sounders were looking to add a "DP attacking midfielder" and could potentially make the move before the current transfer window closes on May 12. Wahl said the Sounders would be looking at someone who could help primarily on offense, both as a goal scorer and a goal creator. It was also suggested the Sounders could sign a second non-DP midfielder.
The second bit of information came shortly thereafter when the Sounders announced they had acquired some TAM and an international roster spot from Toronto FC in exchange for General Allocation Money. Here's how Wahl explained that move:
GAM for TAM trade: Toronto needed GAM to be salary budget compliant. Seattle needs TAM for 1 of these signings https://t.co/IwCHIJ1MYr— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) March 8, 2016
It's, of course, entirely possible that the Sounders are simply making this trade now because that's when it's available. If TFC really needed the GAM immediately, maybe the Sounders got a sweetheart deal.
Waiting until the summer to make these signings still has several advantages:
- The team can save the TAM they'd otherwise need to spend on Alonso to get him out of a DP spot. Alonso will likely make somewhere around $800,000 this year and the Sounders will need to spend close to half of that on TAM to get him below the DP threshold. Waiting until summer would only cost half as much TAM.
- Signing a DP in the summer also comes at a deep discount, counting only $228,750 against the salary cap as opposed to the full $457,500.
- The team's needs would be far more obvious after several months of playing together than they are now after just three competitive matches.
Depending on how much TAM the Sounders acquired in this trade, potentially changes the math of at least one of the variables, though, as buying down Alonso's cap hit now might make more sense. While the Sounders still don't know exactly what they need, adding a player sooner obviously allows him to become more integrated and have an impact on more games.
As for specific names, that's more of a pure guessing game. Roma's Francesco Totti is vaguely the kind of player the Sounders are after and apparently looking to come to MLS, but at 39 years old doesn't fit the profile of "younger and faster." Samir Nasri's name was also floating around on Twitter, but that was the product of a hoax that snared several prominent accounts.
If the Sounders do sign an attacking midfielder, it also potentially addresses their forward depth as Andreas Ivanschitz would be perfectly comfortable in a wide position. Ivanschitz has been fine as a central midfielder up until now, but there's plenty of reason to suspect that the 32-year-old might not be cut out for it over the course of a 34-game season and, presumably, playoffs.