Sounders FC owner and general manager Adrian Hanauer has said throughout the season that any significant additions to the Seattle roster would require the team to lose a major component as well.
On Friday, that loss came in the form of Alvaro Fernandez as the 26-year-old Uruguayan midfielder was traded to the Chicago Fire to open up a Designated Player spot on the Sounders roster, which they used to sign German midfielder Christian Tiffert.
"We are sad and it's always disappointing when a guy like Alvaro –one of our good teammates and good friends – leaves the team. That was a very, very difficult decision for us to make. He's fit into the team really well. The guys like him," Hanauer said. "He's done very well for us. We're sorry to see Alvaro go."
The Sounders received allocation money in exchange for Fernandez and retained the rights to portions of future transfer fee, Hanauer said.
Fernandez started strong in the 2012 season for Seattle, too. He scored a goal in the Sounders FC's quarterfinal Champions League loss to Santos Laguna, then added two assists in a season-opening victory over Toronto FC. However, he didn't register a goal or assist in the next 18 games before scoring in each of their last two matches.
Even with his recent struggles, head coach Sigi Schmid was reluctant to send Fernandez away in a trade.
"It's always tough to let a player go," he said. "As a coach, this is the toughest part of the job and as a coach it's never something that I want to be easy."
Fernandez came to the Sounders in 2010 after a fourth-place finish in the World Cup with Uruguay.
Though he started just four matches in MLS play, he scored two goals as the Sounders went 8-2-2 with him on the roster to close out the 2010 season. He also added a goal and two assists in the Champions League, but the Sounders went just 2-5-1 in the tournament that year.
He broke through in 2011 with nine goals in league competition, adding two goals and three assists in the Champions League and two more assists in the Open Cup.
"He showed himself to be a wide player who could score goals. His ability in the air is something that helped him get some goals and helped us on set pieces offensively and defensively," Schmid said. "Unfortunately in our league you have to sacrifice something to get something and that's the way it happened."
He joins a Fire team that is 9-7-4 on the season and fifth in the Eastern Conference. They will play the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday and while Fernandez joined the team in San Jose, he is not expected to play in the match. Their next match will come on Saturday, August 4 as they host Toronto FC at Toyota Park.
With Fernandez out of the lineup, Schmid can turn to first-year standout Alex Caskey and veteran Brad Evans and could get a boost from the return of Steve Zakuani. Schmid also mentioned defenders Marc Burch and Leo Gonzalez as potential stand-ins, too.
The Sounders meet the Colorado Rapids Saturday night at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Kickoff is slated for 6 pm on KONG 6/16, with radio coverage on 97.3 KIRO FM.