On Tuesday, the mid-season transfer window opened in Major League Soccer, giving teams the opportunity to sign players from countries around the world. Sounders FC is in pursuit of several players that they envision as helpful to a potential run to the MLS Cup in 2013 and beyond.
Seattle has utilized the window to improve their team in the past and are looking to do the same over the next month as the winds of the rumor mill swirl.
“Like every window that’s open, it’s really busy and the agents are pumping players your way and we have guys that we’re looking at,” Sounders FC Sporting Director Chris Henderson said. “We have some cash available to look for players, but we’re still pursuing the search and we’re really active. We’ll see how it plays out.”
In the past, Seattle has utilized the window in all but one season to make key additions to their roster and make a late-season push for the playoffs.
In 2009, Leo Gonzalez came in from Costa Rica and started at left back for the team’s final 11 matches as they went 5-3-3 to finish third in the Western Conference. In those matches, Seattle posted four shutouts with a 0.82 goals against average and Gonzalez has been a consistent presence at left back ever since.
In 2010, the club made their greatest midseason alterations, adding forward Blaise Nkufo and midfielder Alvaro Fernandez after they finished World Cup stints with Switzerland and Uruguay, respectively. After the addition of Nkufo, Seattle went 9-2-2 to close the season in fourth in the West at 14-10-6. Nkufo finished the season with five goals, including the club’s first-ever hat trick, but retired prior to the start of the 2011 season. Fernandez would play mostly a reserve role in 2010, finishing with two goals and one assist in 12 appearances in his first season, but was second on the team with nine goals in 2011 and had two goals and two assists in 14 matches in 2012 before a mid-season trade to the Chicago Fire.
The 2011 year was a quiet transfer window for Sounders FC, though they did add Sammy Ochoa late in the year and he scored twice in four substitute appearances as Seattle went 4-1-0 in their final five matches.
However, last season saw their return to the prominent list of MLS movers and shakers at the mid-season transfer window. After clearing space with the trade of Fernandez, the club added Christian Tiffert and Mario Martinez to their midfield. Upon Tiffert’s debut, the team went 6-3-4 to finish the season third in the West. Tiffert had three assists in 12 appearances, but was not back with the team to start the 2013 season. Martinez, while limited in his contributions during the regular season, made a tremendous post-season impact, scoring the lone goal in the Western Conference semifinals against Real Salt Lake to give Sounders FC their first every playoff series win.
So while the long-term success of mid-season acquisitions has been mixed, short-term they have all made impacts for Sounders FC.
“When you’re scouting, it’s hard to know how a guy is going to come here and adjust,” Henderson said. “You just have to take that chance and do as much work into the background as you can. At least the quality, we hope, will make a difference for us.”
The transfer window runs until August 8.