International roster intrigue Image

Sounders offer international intrigue

The Sounders have several tough decisions to make prior to the September 15th roster freeze date including decisions on Icelandic striker Eidur Gudjohnsen and Romanian right back George Ogararu

The Major League Soccer roster freeze date on September 15 is fast approaching.  On that date, no new additions can be made to a team’s roster, so this week is the last chance teams will have to make changes to their team – either by trade or signing free agents.

On Sunday in their reserve league match against Chivas USA, the Sounders FC showed that they are not content to stand pat as they have the chance to build on to their roster.

“We’re very, very happy with our roster.  We think we have a team that can compete for a championship,” Sounders FC owner and general manager Adrian Hanauer said.  “But again, if we can get stronger, we’ll get stronger.”

Icelandic striker Eidur Gudjohnsen started the reserve match and played the first half, netting a goal on a nifty ball from Sammy Ochoa.  After training with the Sounders during the week, his appearance came as no surprise.

However, Romanian right back George Ogararu came as a surprise to those in attendance at Starfire for Seattle’s 4-2 win in the reserve league match.

Ogararu, 32, played for Steaua Bucuresti for most of his career, but also had stints with Ajax, where he teamed with Mauro Rosales, and Sion in Switzerland.  He was strong in defense for the Sounders in the reserve league match on Sunday and could provide depth at the right back position, particularly if Adam Johansson misses any more games while on international duty with Sweden.

“It’s sort of the same message.  We’re always going to try to make the team better and when there are opportunities to bring players in on trial, we’re going to do it,” Hanauer said.  “We’ll have our own internal discussions and figure out where we are with this year’s roster and beyond.”

Alerted to Ogararu by their extensive network of scouts and agents around the world, the Sounders could add the veteran defender before the September 15 roster freeze, but also seemed open to keeping their options open to signing him next season.

Gudjohnsen is a different proposition, though, as the Sounders were focused on bringing him in for the 2012 season but had not planned on waiting for the 2013 season.

He is scheduled to fly back to Iceland on Monday, but that doesn’t preclude the Sounders from signing him before the roster freeze.  However, paperwork would make it difficult for him to be eligible to play right away.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us to try to find a way to keep him,” Hanauer said.

While the possibility of adding players to the Seattle roster before September 15 may not be completely clear, one thing that is evident is that Seattle is becoming a destination for international soccer players.

Rosales spoke highly of the club to Ogararu and he had no choice but to agree with his old teammate after watching the Sounders top Chivas USA 2-1 on Saturday at CenturyLink Field before playing for the club in their reserve league match.

“He told me it was a fantastic club,” Ogararu smiled.  “And he was right.”