Major League Soccer has handed down its rules for next month's expansion draft, which will stock the new franchises in Portland and Vancouver, B.C.
Seattle technical director Chris Henderson said there were no surprises for Sounders FC. But there also were no celebrations because the main lesson the club learned last season was a hard one. They lost Sebastien Le Toux, who became an All-Star forward in Philadelphia.
“We learned that we’re going to lose a good player,” Henderson said. “ We lost Sebastien last year. And there were other good players that we left unprotected that we wouldn’t have liked to lose, either. He’s had a super year there. We just have to make sure that we’re preparing for the next move: If we lose a guy there, how do we replace him?”
Under expansion rules, each existing MLS club is allowed to protect 11 players. If one is selected by the Timbers or Whitecaps, the team losing the player can protect another. The remaining unprotected players are available to be drafted. Two players is the most an existing team is allowed to lose.
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Certain classes of players – designated players, Generation Adidas (early entry) and home-grown players – are treated differently in certain circumstances. However, none of those exceptions apply to the Sounders, where every player on the roster is eligible for the expansion draft. Therefore, the only sure way to keep a player is to include him on the protected list.
One other roster tool is a brief trade window that will open shortly before the draft. Henderson said the most likely move would reduce roster size: rather than a player-for-player trade, a team such as the Sounders might try to trade a player for a draft pick or for allocation money.
“You have to look at everything,” Henderson said. “The player, the salaries, the contracts, and make your decisions as a staff. We think that we have a really good roster, and we’re going to lose a good player, or maybe two.”
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PELE
As Brazilian legend Pele celebrated his 70th birthday Wednesday, coach Sigi Schmid was asked about the times he has crossed paths with the man generally considered the sport’s greatest player.
“When I was a young kid we were playing for a team called the Toros at the time,” Schmid said. “And one time we had the pregame before Santos played, and I was holding the ball for our team and they came off the field and Pele said, ‘Hey.’ I threw him the ball, he juggled, knocked it back to me. I juggled a little bit – as best I could at that time. And I found a scrap of paper on the floor, and somebody gave me a pen and I got Pele to sign me an autograph. It’s on a little green flier paper that I still have at home and saved. So, I crossed paths with him there. I crossed paths with him later at a couple of symposiums, and we talked. It’s one of those things that I remember meeting him, he probably doesn’t remember meeting me.”
The Sounders have acquired league goalkeeper Alex Horwath for reserve duty Saturday, while regular No. 2 keeper Terry Boss is out due to injury. If Boss remains unavailable the following week, the Sounders could go after a different keeper for the playoffs. Tickets for the Sounders’ playoff opener Oct. 31 at Qwest Field went on sale Wednesday.