Sounders FC

MLS roster changes could be coming

Seattle Sounders FC continued tweaking its roster this week, and there are indications that Major League Soccer could announce a major new way to do so as early as Wednesday.

Goal.com and other media reported that among expected changes to MLS roster and salary cap rules could be the creation of a “core player” slot, which might have the practical impact of adding a fourth designated player. The Sounders are already at the current maximum of three.

Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey didn’t add many details after the club went through training Tuesday, but he said there will be a league conference call Wednesday during which such issues appear to be on the agenda.

“It’s been hinted to us there might be some new options out there,” Lagerwey said. “We’re going to look at it in terms of how we think our team is going to play when we have our entire team together. If it makes sense to add a player in that context, we will. If we think it’s going to be disruptive, we won’t.”

Even before any new rules have been confirmed, the Sounders’ roster roulette wheel has been spinning. The highly publicized subtractions have included designated player Clint Dempsey and Brad Evans due to injury and U.S. national team duty, and DPs Obafemi Martins and Osvaldo Alonso and others due to injury, and Marco Pappa due to Guatemala national team duty. But there also have been a run of signings, most recently the addition of Swedish midfielder Erik Friberg, 29, a former Sounder brought back after three years in Europe.

“Erik’s a player who’s started wherever he’s been, with few exceptions, so he’s a guy that’s definitely going to compete for a starting spot,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “… He’s played different roles. For us the first time around, he played in the middle, he played outside a little bit. In Sweden and in Italy, he’s played in the middle, he’s played outside. And he’s also played as a defensive midfielder as well, so he’s played all of the midfield positions.”

The Friberg signing was preceded by the promotion last week of forward Andy Craven from the Sounders 2 USL team. Before that, there was the addition of Brazilian midfielder Thomás.

“We felt like we wanted some more numbers at that position,” Lagerwey said. “We had guys during this stretch of games really get run down, that we had to play over and over and over again at midfield. … Thomás is a little more specialized — probably his best position as a young guy is as a left winger. So we brought in a specialist, who is probably specifically attacking, and we brought in a generalist like Friberg who can play a lot of positions. We thought the group as a whole was going to be better.”

The Sounders return to action at 8 p.m. Friday, when DC United visits CenturyLink Field.

Friberg won’t be eligible for that match, pending international paperwork. However, Alonso and left back Leo Gonzalez trained Tuesday, with Schmid indicating they could be available.

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