TUKWILA, Wash. – Christian Tiffert’s American adventure officially began on Tuesday.
The Seattle Sounders’ newest Designated Player was a full participant in training just a day after arriving from Germany and seemed excited about starting a new chapter of his career after spending most of his first 13 years as a professional in the Bundesliga.
“I had options, but I like the life for my family,” said the 30-year-old Tiffert, who displayed a high level of comfort speaking in English. “It’s very good. I have two kids. My wife, the kids and I wanted to do an adventure.
“I had a good career and now I can have a good career in the USA. I hope I can bring Seattle more success.”
Tiffert said that, jet lag aside, he’s basically fit as he went through most of preseason with his former team FC Kaiserslautern before making the move.
When he’ll be able to make his Sounders debut, though, will hinge on how quickly his P-1 visa request is processed. Team officials didn’t sound optimistic that he’d be cleared in time for Sunday’s game against the LA Galaxy (9 pm ET, NBC Sports Network), although they did hold out some hope.
“It’s paperwork, it’s something where you hope for the best and hope it goes as quickly as possible, but you’re never quite sure,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said. “What we’ve learned is you never predict anything. You keep your fingers crossed and when it happens, it happens.”
Once he does get on the field, the Sounders are convinced they’ve found a potential game-changer.
“He adds that vision, that ability to cross balls,” Schmid said. “Our big thing where we want to get better is to maintain possession in the opponent’s end of the field and keep pressure on the opponent. Obviously, if we can get a little better at making those final passes it makes us more dangerous.”
While obviously pleased to have signed Tiffert, Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer acknowledged that bringing him didn’t work out exactly as they had hoped it would. The Sounders had attempted to find several different ways that would have allowed them to both sign Tiffert and keep Álvaro Fernández – who they ultimately traded to the Chicago Fire – but that no option was deemed acceptable by the league office.
“I’d say it was a 50-50 thing where we were trying to figure out a way to keep him,” Hanauer said about Fernández, who the Sounders had hoped to loan outside of the league or possibly re-sign to a non-DP contract.
“At the same time, we liked Christian a lot and wanted to bring him in. It just took a while to muddle through the process and try to argue and persuade and convince and ultimately it came down to the last couple of days. We decided that in order to bring Christian in we were going to have to make that move with Álvaro."
Hanauer said that he was “highly confident” that there would soon be a formal announcement about the signing of Mario Martínez, who is currently with the Honduras Olympic team in London.
“I would call it dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s,” Hanauer said. “We did everything we needed to do to get the process started within the timeframe when FIFA closes the window and it’s just a matter of pulling the last few pieces together.”