TUCSON, Ariz. — The Seattle Sounders have been in need of one more experienced center back from the minute Jeff Parke was traded to Philadelphia in December.
On Wednesday, they got a look at two accomplished options: former Manchester United defender Mikael Silvestre and former Liverpool defender Djimi Traoré. Both players featured in the Sounders’ 2-0 win over the New England Revolution in their opener here at the Desert Diamond Cup.
As it stands, Seattle hold the MLS right of first refusal for both players, should the players reach an agreement with the league. But various considerations indicate the club will take only one of the two on board.
The Sounders hinted at which way they were leaning the day after the Revolution match: Silvestre was gone from camp, while Traoré remains with the club in Tucson, though an injury will keep him out of action in Saturday's match against Real Salt Lake (6 pm ET, live on MLSsoccer.com).
“Traoré’s done well,” head coach Sigi Schmid told MLSsoccer.com on Friday. “We’re in negotiations with him as well.”
“He’s a good pro. He’s fit in well with the team. It’s the same thing with Silvestre. He brings a lot of the same things. Experience. They’re good with the young players. They’re calming influences. I think both are very similar.”
So maybe we shouldn’t read as much into Silvestre’s departure as we might think. Despite his departure, the former French international appears to still be valued by the Sounders, though not necessarily as a possible squad member, but as a bargaining chip. The Portland Timbers have also had Silvestre in their camp this preseason and are reportedly interested in acquiring him. For that to happen, a deal would have to be made between the two clubs, since the Sounders get first crack at his services.
“Once an agreement is reached between the league and [Silvestre], then we have an opportunity to take up that agreement,” Schmid explained. “So at that point, we’ll make a decision. We know Portland have an interest. But we thought he did will [with us]. We have an interest, as well. So we just have to see how it works out.”
So which will it be: Silvestre or Traoré? The smart money is probably on Traoré, and the Sounders still hold all the cards in a little poker game with their fiercest rivals.