Sports Out West

Seattle Sounders FC clean house for upcoming season

Sounders team photo prior to the Colorado match Photo: Jane Gershovic

Once the MLS playoffs ended, disappointed owners Joe Roth and Adrian Hanauer decided to retain Sigi Schmid as their 2014 head coach.  The leadership team then shifted their attention to the player roster.

GM/Owner Hanauer noted in his press conference comments that the “rationale” behind most of the transactions were economic.

Player changes in chronological order: 

December 10, 2013 – Acquired goalkeeper Stefan Frei from Toronto FC.  Incumbent Michael Gspurning failed to receive a new contract after his poor performances in the latter stages of the regular season (nine goals in two games).  The club plans to retain backups Marcus Hahnemann and Josh Ford.

Michael Gspurning cheering on his teammates (Photo: Jane Gershovich)

Michael Gspurning cheering on his teammates (Photo: Jane Gershovich)

“…it was difficult to see Michael Gspurning leave,”  Hanauer said.  “We really like Michael as a goalkeeper and a person…cap constraints made a transaction necessary.”

December 11, 2013 – Traded midfielder Mauro Rosales to Chivas USA for the rights to forward Tristan Bowen.  Rosales led the team with eight assists during the 2013 campaign and shared the team’s career assist record with 34.

“It will be difficult to see him leave,” Hanauer said.  “But our salary cap situation made this decision necessary.”

December 12, 2013 – Portland Timbers selected original Sounder midfielder Steve Zakuani in the MLS Re-Entry Draft.

Two years after suffering a horrific leg fracture and additional health issues in 2013, long-time fan favorite Zakuani will now play for Caleb Porter, his old college coach at the University of Akron.

“Obviously the last couple of years have been rough with injuries,” Hanauer said. “Difficult to see him go to our rivals to the south… Again, same issue, we weren’t prepared to take the cap hit that was going to be required with Steve. We knew there was a risk that he was going to end up somewhere else.”

December 13, 2013 – Obtained the rights to forward Kenny Cooper (he signed a new contract five days later) from FC Dallas in exchange for midfielder Adam Moffat.

The acquisition of Cooper was a clear signal that Eddie Johnson’s departure was imminent.

“Kenny is a proven goal scorer who is extremely active in the box,“ said Head Coach Sigi Schmid.  “At 6’3, he is a big forward who creates matchup problems for opposing defenders.”

Cooper scored six goals this past season for FC Dallas.

December 16, 2013 – Re-signed defender Leo Gonzalez.  The steady Gonzalez made 27 starts in 2013 and was named the club’s Defender of the Year by his teammates. 

“Leo had an outstanding season in 2013, and we are happy to reward him with a new contract for the 2014 season,” Hanauer said.

December 17, 2013 – Traded forward Eddie Johnson to D.C. United for allocation money.  Johnson led the Sounders in scoring the past two years with 23 MLS regular season tallies.

Eddie Johnson's reaction after scoring a goal against Colorado

Eddie Johnson’s reaction after scoring a goal against Colorado

The trade addressed Johnson’s wish for more money and rumors about his problems in the Sounders’ locker room.

“I know the speculation is going to be that there were were these other massive issues,” Hanauer said.  “But really when it came down to it, this was about getting our team balance in a way from back to front that gives us the best chance of winning.”

December 18, 2013 – Selected forwards Chad Barrett and Corey Hertzog in the Re-Entry Process.  The Sounders have the rights to both players and can negotiate new contracts.

Barrett, a nine-year MLS veteran, was selected from the New England Revolution, where he had two goals and two assists in 2013.

Hertzog, 23, played in Vancouver last season and had two points (one goal and one assist).

“He (Barrett) has a nose for the goal and is able to play multiple positions,”  Sporting Director Chris Henderson said.  “ His (Hertzog) attacking movement is good and he has an instinct to find the ball in the penalty box.” 

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John Zielonka

John Zielonka has covered the Seattle Sounders FC, Seattle Seahawks and University of Washington men's basketball and football. He's written for Yahoo! Sports, 710 ESPN Seattle, Goal.com and is a member of the North American Soccer Reporters.