Few teams have been as active than the Seattle Sounders this offseason, and arguably their biggest move came on Tuesday, when it was announced that the Sounders traded Eddie Johnson to D.C. United in exchange for a “large amount” of allocation money.
While this was just the latest move, this one promises to have a cascading effect on a roster that is still coming into focus.
“We do have pretty good flexibility now, so I would count on one or two more pretty major signings, potentially,” Sounders GM and part owner Adrian Hanauer (above) told reporters during a conference call on Tuesday. “They could be anywhere on the field. I would say we’re still pretty far from the finished product.”
While the acquisition of Kenny Cooper likely fills the hole created directly by Johnson’s departure, Hanauer acknowledged that the losses of Mauro Rosales and Steve Zakuani leave the Sounders thin at wide midfield positions. He also left open the possibility of bringing in another forward or even furth addressing a defense to which Chad Marshall and Stefan Frei have already been added.
Most of these moves were prompted by the Sounders’ salary-budget situation, which Hanauer said was very tight at the end of the season.
“It’s a tough system to live in with lots of good players who want to make lots of money,” Hanauer said. “We just thought this was the best solution to manage our roster the way needed to manage it and hopefully get us into a position to compete for a championship in 2014.”
Although some off-the-field issues were hinted at during the Sounders’ end-of-year business meeting and at least two reports quoted anonymous sources as effectively laying the blame for those issues at Johnson’s feet, Hanauer insisted that was not why the team chose to trade their leading scorer from the past two seasons.
“Really it was mostly focused on salary cap,” Hanauer said. “Look, it was certainly reported and there were some minor incidents. But minor incidents happen on every team with many players and many times it doesn’t get reported. I know the speculation is going to be that there were these massive issues, but when it came down to it this was about getting our team balanced in a way from back to front that gives us the best chance of winning.
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“Obviously he wanted to make more money, which sort of started this process down the path that it’s gone. We’re happy for Eddie as well. Hopefully, he ends up in a better spot for him and we think this is a good move for us to get our overall roster in a better position as well.”
By getting moves like this out of the way early, Hanauer is hopeful some of the chemistry issues that dogged the Sounders will be addressed as well.
“We are obviously going to be as settled as possible at the start of training camp,” he said. “Hopefully we’ve learned our lesson a little bit, but no team is ever 100 percent settled [at the start of camp]. We’re going to try to be more settled.”