TUKWILA, Wash. — Mario Martinez is no longer on the Seattle Sounders roster and it’s looking increasingly likely that he won’t be in the near future.
The Honduras international’s loan officially ran out on June 30, and negotiations over his permanent transfer are apparently at a stand-still.
“I don’t think anything is moving on it at all,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said on Thursday. “It’s probably becoming a dead issue.”
Although Sounders General Manager Adrian Hanauer held out a little more hope that something could be worked out, it was just the faintest amount.
“We’re still in communication, but I’d agree with Sigi that it’s looking less and less like he’ll come back,” Hanauer said. “Until he has a new team, until things are set in stone, I guess you never say never in these types of situations.”
As recently as a few weeks ago, the Sounders and Martinez both sounded optimistic that an agreement could be reached. But after Martinez failed to return from what was originally expected to be a brief trip to Honduras following his national team stint, it became apparent that something was amiss. And once Martinez was unexpectedly been named to Honduras’ Gold Cup roster -- meaning he might be on national team duty until the end of the month -- it was undeniable that the situation had eroded possibly beyond repair.
“It’s multi-faceted,” Hanauer said. “Numbers are always part of it. Desire of the player. What we interpret in terms of the player and how we feel they will fit in long term. There was the transfer fee issue. A negotiation of the fee, which is part of the salary cap as well, is certainly a factor. If you have salary plus transfer fee there’s some cap number that corresponds to this year and future years and it becomes a discussion of how do we feel about that.”
Assuming the Sounders don’t come to terms with Martinez at this time -- the club will retain the right of first refusal on Martinez in the future -- that opens up some salary-cap space for the summer transfer window that opens on July 9. It would also free up an additional international roster spot, of which the Sounders now have three.
Martinez’s absence does not necessarily change the positions the Sounders are looking to fill, though. The Sounders are still holding out hope that Steve Zakuani, who is currently recovering from a sports hernia operation, will help fill the void.
“[Martinez's departure] may skew our thinking a little bit, but ultimately it’s about adding quality players that can step in at every position and contribute,” Hanauer said.