UPDATE (1/12): Albert Rusnák is scheduled to undergo his physical on Wednesday, sources confirmed to Sounder at Heart. If all goes well, he’ll likely join the Sounders in time for the formal start of training camp on Friday.
UPDATE (1/8): Although there’s nothing official, Sounders announce Keith Costigan seemed to indicate on Saturday that Albert Rusnák has agreed to terms with the Sounders. A formal announcement likely won’t come until Monday.
Rusnak Sounders— keith costigan (@KeithCostigan) January 8, 2022
A relatively quiet offseason is about to get a bit more interesting. Although it’s not clear quite exactly how close it is to being finalized, the Seattle Sounders are pursuing free agent Albert Rusnák, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
Sounder at Heart’s Niko Moreno also independently confirmed the report.
Although Rusnák was a Designated Player during his previous five seasons with Real Salt Lake, the Sounders are believed to be trying to sign him a TAM-level contract. That would require him to take a pay cut of at least $700,000 from the roughly $2.35 million he was paid last year, according to MLS Players Association documents.
If the Sounders can get Rusnák signed, though, it would be arguably the most significant free-agent signing in league history. Not only is Rusnák still just 27, but he’s averaged .60 goals+assists per 90 minutes since coming to MLS in 2017. Last year, he finished with 11 goals and 11 assists after failing to register a goal or an assist in his first seven games. Only eight players in MLS had more combined goals and assists than him last year.
Rusnák is also a semi-regular with the Slovakia national team, earning 34 caps. That includes four appearances and two starts in their most recent World Cup qualifying campaign.
Further adding to the Sounders’ comfort in adding Rusnák is that Sporting Director Craig Waibel is the person who first brought him to MLS. Sounders assistant coach Freddy Juarez also worked with Rusnák, first as an assistant from 2017-19 then as his head coach from 2019-21.
Rusnák had primarily been deployed as a No. 10 in a 4-2-3-1 and in a similar role when Pablo Mastroeni shifted into a 3-5-2 last year. He’s also played on both wings, making him a near ideal fit for the Sounders as they assess their formational options for 2022. Not only would Rusnák provide some insurance in case Nicolas Lodeiro is unable to return to previous form or stay healthy, but he’d also be able to play opposite Jordan Morris and allow Cristian Roldan to slide back into the defensive midfield.
*This story first published on Dec. 30 and was updated on Jan. 8.