Romanian defender George Ogararu joins Sounders for tryout
The defender, who played for Dutch club AFC Ajax for four years, joined Seattle before Saturday's MLS deadline for roster moves and played in Sunday's reserve game.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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TUKWILA — With MLS rosters set to lock in place Saturday, Sounders FC has one more week to make personnel moves for the rest of the 2012 season — and the team will keep things interesting.
Within a few days of bringing in veteran forward Eidur Gudjohnsen for a tryout, Seattle has added another impressive résumé to camp.
That player? Romanian defender George Ogararu, who played for top Dutch club AFC Ajax from 2006-10 and has 11 appearances for his national team.
Both Gudjohnsen and Ogararu were featured in Sunday's surprisingly star-studded reserve game at Starfire Stadium, a 4-2 win against Chivas USA. Both are also out of contract, meaning the Sounders can sign them despite the summer transfer window having closed.
General manager Adrian Hanauer said Ogararu's arrival sends a familiar message.
"We're always going to try to make the team better, and when there are opportunities to have good players in on trial, we're going to do it," said Hanauer.
The team's tryout for Gudjohnsen, who scored Seattle's opening goal Sunday, has effectively ended, and the 33-year-old is set to return to his native Iceland on Monday. Coach Sigi Schmid said last week that evaluations in this case would be less about talent — Gudjohnsen has played for Chelsea FC and FC Barcelona — and more about health/fitness and being able to make things work financially.
Gudjohnsen's return to Iceland doesn't necessarily mean he won't sign, Hanauer said, as the Sounders will continue discussions with the player's representation.
"He would probably go back whether he was signed or not signed to get himself organized," said Hanauer. "But again, we've got our work cut out for us to try to come up with a way to keep him."
Ogararu, whose contract with FC Sion of Switzerland expired this summer, joined the Sounders on Saturday and had glowing things to say about the organization after watching the team's game against Chivas USA, then playing in Sunday's reserve game. He had the benefit of knowing Seattle midfielder Mauro Rosales in setting up his tryout, as the pair played together at Ajax.
"I'm very surprised in what I see over here — a good atmosphere and a good club and a good environment,' said Ogararu, who added he would like to stay here "as long as possible."
Regardless of whether a move is made before Saturday's deadline, Hanauer said the team is "very, very happy with our roster."
"We think we have a team that can compete for a championship," he added. "But again, if we can get stronger, we'll get stronger."
• The Sounders also got goals from Cordell Cato, Michael Seamon and guest player Seth C'deBaca in Sunday's win, which improved Seattle's reserves to 3-4-1. Chivas USA (3-4-3) had a goal from Jose Erick Correa and an own goal.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org.