Sounders trade Alvaro Fernandez, sign Christian Tiffert from Germany
Sounders FC was as quiet as it gets up until the final day of the summer transfer window, the monthlong period when MLS teams can sign international...
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Sounders FC was as quiet as it gets up until the final day of the summer transfer window, the monthlong period when MLS teams can sign international players.
At least on the outside.
Then, with Friday as the last day of the window, Seattle had a whirlwind afternoon leading into Saturday's 6 p.m. game at the Colorado Rapids.
First, the Sounders traded midfielder Alvaro Fernandez to the Chicago Fire in exchange for allocation money.
The move opened up a designated-player slot on the roster, which was filled nearly an hour later with the signing of German midfielder Christian Tiffert.
Finally, multiple reports have indicated Seattle is on the verge of acquiring 22-year-old Honduran midfielder Mario Martinez on loan, which could be announced as soon as Saturday.
"To be totally honest, it's been an absolutely chaotic, hectic three to four days," said general manager Adrian Hanauer, who jokingly expressed concerns over his health from being on the phone for so long.
Hanauer described the final hours as a "mad dash" to get everything finalized. Most attention in the aftermath has centered on the arrival of Tiffert, a playmaking central midfielder who had been serving as team captain of FC Kaiserslautern in Germany's top league. The Sounders initially confirmed interest in Tiffert in June when the 30-year-old visited Seattle.
Tiffert becomes the sixth DP in team history, following Freddie Ljungberg, Blaise Nkufo, Fredy Montero, Mauro Rosales and Fernandez.
"He's a player that's going to be able to playmake and help run our game," coach Sigi Schmid said of Tiffert. "He's a guy with a lot of experience, a guy who's been captain of his team, so he'll help us as well from a leadership standpoint in crucial moments."
Reports of Tiffert's signing first sprouted Friday morning from Germany and were later confirmed by FC Kaiserslautern and one of Tiffert's representatives. Schmid doesn't expect Tiffert will need much time be ready to play, both from a physical standpoint coming off his offseason and in the required arrival of his P-1 visa.
Tiffert's signing could also help satisfy Seattle's need for a veteran presence after losing many leaders over the offseason, as well as longtime forward/midfielder Roger Levesque to retirement last week.
The addition came at the cost of Fernandez, who scored 13 goals in 55 league games with the Sounders. The 26-year-old Uruguayan also had one of the biggest goals in franchise history when he scored the game-winner on the road against CF Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League.
"At this point in our evolution, it's going to be addition by subtraction," Hanauer said, "and unfortunately for us in this case, it was addition by subtracting out Alvaro."
• Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning practiced all week and is expected to return Saturday after having missed the past 13 MLS games with a hip strain.
• The Sounders described negotiations with Martinez as "advanced." The 22-year-old plays with the Honduran Olympic team Sunday against Spain. The move had to be finalized by the end of Friday, but not necessarily announced.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org