SEATTLE -- No team underwent more of a face-lift on the final day of the MLS transfer window than the Seattle Sounders.
Over the span of a few hours, they traded Designated Player Alvaro Fernandez to the Chicago Fire, signed FC Kaiserslautern’s Christian Tiffert, and entered into “advanced negotiations” with a 22-year-old Honduran Olympian Mario Martinez.
“To be totally honest, it’s been an absolutely chaotic, hectic 3-4 days,” Sounders General Manager Adrian Hanauer said on a Friday conference call. “I’m fairly certain I’ve developed a brain tumor from being on the phone for so many hours.
“We quite frankly talked about a lot player options both ingoing and outgoing. It was kind of a mad dash to get everything finalized both with Christian and Chicago and to stage it in a way that made sense. I guess the part that, a secondary reason for how busy it’s been, is that we’re not necessarily done. This wasn’t necessarily a 1-for-1 situation. So we’re still busy as we speak.”
That last part was clearly alluding to Martinez, who several outlets in Honduras are reporting is set to join the Sounders on loan once his time with the Honduras Olympic team is over. The left-footed midfielder, who featured in Los Catrachos' draw with Morocco on Thursday, could be a potential replacement for Fernandez.
“He’s a young player that we’ve been tracking for a while,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said about Martinez. “He’s got a very good left foot. He’s got a good shot from distance. He’s another player who’s very good on service and set pieces and dead balls. He’s got some Brad Davis qualities in terms of his services. He’s a player we think has a big upside.”
The Sounders are banking on Tiffert having an even higher ceiling. The 30-year-old is just one season removed from a 17-assist campaign in which he helped Kaiserslautern to their best top-flight finish in nearly a decade.
The Sounders think they’ve found a key piece to the puzzle that will help them solve the MLS Cup Playoffs, where success has eluded them in their first three seasons.
“His game-management skills I think are going to help us,” Schmid said. “His experience, his leadership, his ability to play make, those are all things that I think will help us.”
Although Tiffert has played all over the midfield during his 12-year professional career, Schmid gave strong indications that the Sounders signed him to play as a central midfielder. How he fits in alongside Fredy Montero and Mauro Rosales, who both have tended to drift into that central midfield role, will be one of the keys to how successful this move proves to be.
“Christian is a little more defensive orientated than those two are, per se,” Schmid said. “He’s somebody who plays a little more positionally orientated as well than they do. What I mean is that he doesn’t need to play with the amount of freedom that we have to give Mauro and Fredy in our system of play. That’s why he fits in and complements what they do. It’s not a choice of infringing upon what anyone else is doing, it’s more a matter of complementing what is already happening.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.