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Kim Kee-hee joins Korean club

Ulsan was one of the K-League’s top teams last year.

MLS: MLS Cup-Toronto FC vs Seattle FC Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Kim Kee-hee has agreed to terms with K-League club Ulsan Hyundai, according to reports out of South Korea. This would effectively end any faint hopes of Kim returning to the Sounders in 2020.

Ulsan was one of the K-League’s top teams in 2019, finishing as runners-up in the championship playoffs. Ulsan has won the K-League twice (in 1996 and 2005) and various domestic cups seven times.

This would be Kim’s second stint in the K-League. During his last time there, Kim won back-to-back championships with Jeonbuk Hyundai prior to moving to the Chinese Super League in 2016 for a reported transfer fee of $6 million.

Kim came to the Sounders prior to the 2018 season under the assumption that he’d be more of a depth piece. After an injury to Román Torres, though, he quickly found himself in the starting lineup. He ends his Sounders career with 64 MLS starts, including all six playoff games during his time here.

Despite generally solid performances, the Sounders and Kim were never able to come to an agreement on a new deal. The Sounders made it well known they had offered Kim a new contract, but indicated it was for less than the nearly $775,000 he was paid last year. Early in the offseason, they had expressed optimism Kim would return but by the time training camp re-opened they had effectively given that up.

didn’t always grab the headlines, but he was probably a bit underrated all things considered and was a source of consistency on a backline that was forced into significant rotation by injuries, suspensions and retirements.

He also was capable of moves like this.

He’ll definitely be missed.

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