Sounders taking their time with offseason moves
GM Adrian Hanauer insists possible additions to the roster are being discussed but says the team has no timetable for such moves.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Sounders FC's offseason, just 51 days after the MLS Cup, is over.
But while preseason training camp starts Monday, Seattle's roster still stands to see a fair amount of change before the team's March 2 opener against Montreal — perhaps even the signing of a designated player.
"We're talking with a lot of players in a lot of different categories within the roster — whether it's minimum-salary guys, mid-salary guys, DP's — and in multiple positions," said general manager Adrian Hanauer. "But the process will just sort of happen when it happens."
There is some added urgency to make moves with the Sounders set to face Mexico's Tigres UANL in a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal in March, but Hanauer said that won't compromise the team's negotiating and decision-making process.
Patience, though, hasn't been easy for fans.
Recent weeks have seen defender Jeff Parke traded to Philadelphia and forward Fredy Montero, the franchise's all-time leading scorer, loaned to Colombia's Millonarios for the 2013 season.
Moreover, the Sounders' additions so far have been limited to the signing of 19-year-old homegrown defender DeAndre Yedlin and two picks in the MLS SuperDraft.
Coach Sigi Schmid views it a bit differently, noting the boost of having offensive-minded midfielders Steve Zakuani, Mario Martinez and Christian Tiffert available for the whole year. Zakuani was recovering from a serious leg injury for much of 2012; Martinez and Tiffert were midseason signings.
"The team is very close," Schmid said, referring to the ultimate goal of a championship.
"We're going to continue to work, continue to make us stronger in all parts of the field, but I feel the nucleus is still there. We were able to keep the nucleus of the team together, and I think the spirit and the desire to bring home the MLS Cup is stronger than it's ever been."
A handful of the Sounders' top players won't be available for the start of camp due to international duty. Forward Eddie Johnson and midfielder Brad Evans are each with the U.S. national team through the end of the month. Martinez is playing in CONCACAF Gold Cup qualifiers for Honduras and defender Adam Johansson is heading to Thailand for a tournament with Sweden.
Those absences will provide opportunities for some non-contract invitees in preseason.
Philip Lund, a 23-year-old forward/midfielder from Denmark, will join the Sounders for a tryout, and Cordell Cato, whose option was declined by Seattle at the end of the last season, and Panamanian midfielder Manuel Asprilla have also indicated on Twitter they'll be in camp.
Various reports have suggested former Colorado Rapids midfielder Ross LeBeaux and USL Charleston Battery midfielder Jose Cuevas as other potential options, as well.
A high-profile DP signing, however, is what many fans are waiting for, and Hanauer was asked if a summer move might be more likely due to the team's salary cap constraints (the cap hit of a summer signing is half that of a preseason signing).
"It could be this summer," Hanauer said. "Our transfer window is open for a while, so I would hope that we could get something done prior to the summer window — but no guarantees."
• Montero indicated on Twitter that his loan, which has been close to completion for a couple of weeks, could be finalized Monday. He is already playing for Millonarios in preseason.
• The Sounders, who set an MLS record in attendance again last year, did not win any of the league's 15 club and executive awards for 2012. Seattle won three such awards after the 2011 season.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @joshuamayers