On Tuesday, the Sounders FC acquired veteran MLS midfielder Shalrie Joseph, but in doing so also sent a message to US National Team players around the world.
“Now that we know that we’re third in the ranking, we can get out there and try to prime the pump a little bit and make an announcement to national team players around the world or players who left the league by being sold out of the league that the Sounders are third in line,” Sounders FC owner and general manager Adrian Hanauer said. “I would imagine that there are some players out there who would like to come play for the Sounders.”
For nearly their entire existence, the Sounders FC has needed to trade to the top of the Allocation Order in order to bring in some of the top US National Team players or players who have been sold from the league in previous stints.
In their inaugural season, they signed Kasey Keller with their top allocation spot, but since then have not had the luxury of acquiring a player through that mechanism without a swap because their success in the MLS regular season has put them toward the end of the Allocation Order each year.
On Tuesday, they took some proactive steps to climb that ladder with the trade for Chivas USA midfielder Shalrie Joseph. In addition to Joseph and second round picks in the 2014 and 2015 MLS SuperDraft, the Sounders also swapped slots in the Allocation Order, moving from No. 15 to No. 3.
“Moving up in allocation spots gives us another opportunity to improve our team which based upon the success we have in the season is not feasible for us because we’re always so low in the allocation order,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said.
In 2011, the Sounders traded up in the order to acquire forward Sammy Ochoa, but only after defender Jay DeMerit (Vancouver Whitecaps), forwards Kenny Cooper (Portland Timbers) and Charlie Davies (DC United) and midfielders Benny Feilhaber (New England Revolution) and Freddy Adu (Philadelphia Union) had already been snagged. Last year, Montreal signed Eddie Johnson with the top spot, then traded him to Seattle in exchange for Lamar Neagle, who has since returned, and Mike Fucito, who is now on his third team since the trade. The Sounders also later traded for Marcus Hahnemann and in between the players were far less successful with their new teams than the 2011 class.
“To some degree we’re taking our chances with it,” Hanauer said. “Sometimes a player comes through that may not be a big time player, but other times players are big, important players.”
The Allocation Order resets at the end of each season, with teams being sorted in reverse order of their finish in the season’s standings. Players eligible for the Allocation Order are U.S. National Team players who sign with MLS after playing abroad, or former MLS players who return to the League after having gone to a club abroad for a transfer fee.