It would appear that Alvaro Fernandez is preparing for his departure from the Seattle Sounders. There’s been no official word from the team, but the Uruguayan apparently told a reporter with Seattle Univision that he had played his final game at CenturyLink Field.
He said it was his last game at Centurylink Field during my live interview at @UnivisionSea— Diego Arrioja (@diego_arrioja) June 6, 2017
While there’s no reason to doubt the basic reporting on this -- Fernandez is a pretty good source when it comes to the future of Alvaro Fernandez — there are several important questions that need to be answered.
The first and arguably most important is whether this was Fernandez’s final Sounders match or just the last one he played at CenturyLink Field?
The Sounders don’t play another game at CenturyLink Field until June 21, which means Fernandez could potentially be sticking around until then. That would allow him to play in the upcoming U.S. Open Cup game against the Portland Timbers on Tuesday and even the road game against New York City FC on June 17.
It’s also possible he’s just REALLY planning ahead, doesn’t expect to feature in the June 21 home match against Orlando City when the Sounders should be at pretty much full strength and will be sticking around until the Gold Cup break. That would mean he’d be available for road matches against the Timbers (June 25) and Colorado Rapids (July 4), when he’s more likely to be needed.
Weird as that may sound, it does make a certain amount of sense from a contractual standpoint. Fernandez officially joined the Sounders on July 28 and it’s entirely possible he signed a one-year deal that is simply getting ready to run out with no plan to re-sign him.
The extreme flip side to this is a little harder to square.
If Fernandez is actually saying that Sunday’s game was his last one as a Sounder, it leaves the Sounders very short-handed without any obvious contract relief. Barring some unknown loophole in MLS contract rules that allow for a player to be bought out this late into the season, this would imply that the Sounders cut Fernandez or have agreed to transfer him at an odd time. That would leave them with only 24 players under contract, as many as six of whom are away on international duty and three more of whom missed the last game with injury. Considering three of their available and healthy bodies are goalkeepers, it would leave them with as few as 12 outfield players available for selection in the Open Cup game.
To call the decision to cut Fernandez now strange would be a dramatic understatement, especially since he’s coming off two of his better performances of the season.
Barring an unexpected official word from the team, this is probably all the information we’ll have until the Sounders return to training on Friday and head coach Brian Schmetzer can be asked about it.
UPDATE: After watching the video of the interview, our resident Spanish translator matlatzinca was able to provide this translation: “Really we needed this win, it is with our fans so we couldn’t let them down. And also today was a very special game for me. It is likely to be my last game at Century Link so I had a lot of emotions and it was great to have won the game.” The key phrase in this is “seguramente” which can be translated as “it is likely,” “assuredly,” or “in all likelihood.” Either way, it suggests his departure isn’t quite so imminent.