By signing Victor Rodriguez on Wednesday, the Seattle Sounders have filled their allotment of eight international spots. Yet, rumors persist that they are still trying to sign Paraguayan Derlis Gonzalez. How is that possible? Glad you asked.
Like most things in MLS, international roster spots are fungible. Just because a team doesn’t have one available, nothing precludes them from effectively creating one or acquiring one.
One way to do that is to open up one of the spots that are currently occupied. They could do that by trading a player, loaning them out or by putting them on the Disabled List.
Chances are, the Sounders aren’t going to trade any of their internationals. Seven of them are veterans who play significant roles within the team. The other is Jordy Delem, and while he played reasonably well in his most recent appearance, he is unlikely to fetch much in return.
Delem, though, may prove to be the key if this is the route the Sounders choose to take. Being that his role is poised to diminish considerably, especially if the Sounders sign another midfielder, the Sounders could simply plop him onto the Disabled List or maybe even loan him to S2 for the rest of the season. I’m not 100 percent sure about the rules regarding season-long loans to USL affiliates, but in 2015 the Sounders did place Damion Lowe on the Disabled List despite him having no obvious injury. He was still able to play games for S2.
But the Sounders have plenty of room on their roster, and given their injury woes this year, they may want to keep Delem around. In that instance, they could trade for an international roster spot.
The going rate to effectively rent one of these spots for the rest of 2017 is $50,000 in Allocation Money. By my math, there are currently 13 open international spots around the league. The New England Revolution have three — New York City FC are the only other team with more than one — and would almost certainly be willing to part with at least one.
In other words, the tricky part isn’t finding the roster room, it’s getting Dynamo Kiev to agree to a transfer fee.