Sounders judge who to keep amid draft
MLS teams are allowed to protect 11 players from selection by the Montreal Impact in Wednesday's expansion draft, and the assumption for some is that the task is straightforward.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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TUKWILA — MLS teams are allowed to protect 11 players from selection by the Montreal Impact in Wednesday's expansion draft, and the assumption for some is that the task is straightforward.
Just protect your 11 best.
But in a sit-down interview earlier this month, Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid affirmed there's much more involved.
"Yes, you are protecting your best players," Schmid said, "but then you look at the last three to four guys and it's a little bit of a game on who you think somebody's going to take."
A number of factors are considered when weighing a player's value and appeal to an expansion team — e.g. age, salary, depth at the position. But with more quality players than who they can protect, the Sounders realized that strategy alone won't likely keep them from losing someone to the Impact, which joins the league in 2012.
"For sure the better teams stand a better chance of possibly losing a player," Schmid said.
As revealed Monday, the Sounders have protected forwards Fredy Montero and Sammy Ochoa; midfielders Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Alvaro Fernandez, Erik Friberg, Lamar Neagle, Mauro Rosales and Steve Zakuani; defenders Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Jeff Parke.
Several key contributors — including forward Mike Fucito, a fan favorite, and defenders James Riley and Tyson Wahl — were left off the list.
General manager Adrian Hanauer said earlier in the month that finalizing a protected list would be especially difficult because "we have a lot of players who we think could start on a lot of teams around the league."
Montreal will select 10 unprotected players leaguewide at a noon press conference. Per draft rules, teams cannot lose more than one.
The Sounders, who have lost three players in the past two expansion drafts, the maximum amount, hope their decisions will prevent another departure, but a lot of the process is a guessing game.
Montreal has targeted an American defender playing in Denmark and a big forward in the United Soccer Leagues, Schmid said, which could affect its picks Wednesday. The Impact could also select certain unprotected players and immediately trade them to others interested teams.
"Sometimes you guess right," said Schmid, "and sometimes you guess wrong,"
CenturyLink to get
The Sounders and Seahawks announced Tuesday that a new artificial FieldTurf surface will be installed at CenturyLink Field in early February.
The current turf was installed in 2008 and is in great need of replacement, especially with the University of Washington football team also scheduled to play its home games at CenturyLink in 2012.
Sounders FC will host Mexico's Santos Laguna on the new surface on March 7 in the first leg of a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @joshuamayers.
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