The day of reckoning is fast approaching the Sounders FC and all Major League Soccer clubs — they need to be roster compliant March 1.
That means clubs have to trim their roster to 30 players, or fewer, as well as meet salary cap requirements. What it means in human terms is that coach Sigi Schmid and his staff have to make some hard choices.
Who’s gonna stay? Who’s gonna go?
Defender Leone Cruz is already gone. He has been cut from the roster. While the coaching staff evaluates and makes its final decision, some interesting battles have flared up during preseason camp. Forward Lamar Neagle and center midfielder Jonathon Prieto could beat the odds and play their way onto the 30-man roster — if the Sounders choose to carry 30 players.
Rookies Michael Tetteh and Servando Carrasco likely have secured spots. Rookie keepers Bryan Merideth and Josh Ford have impressed coaches and players alike. Schmid has said he’d like to take both keepers but that depends on contractual issues. If Schmid decides to offer one spot, then it goes to Merideth.
So, it comes down to the bubble players: defenders Danny Earls, Richard Martinez, Taylor Graham, Tyson Wahl and Zach Scott. Midfielders/forwards David Estrada, Miguel Montano, Roger Levesque (right defender, too), Mike Seamon, Neagle, Prieto and Pat Noonan. All of these players are contesting for the rapidly diminishing number of roster spots.
But since the Sounders staff is going radio silent for the moment, we are left to our own devices. To determine who stays or who goes, we need to first determine the first and second teams. This is based on a 4-4-2 formation, which Schmid favors, as well as based on the various lines-ups he created for the matches in Florida.
Remaining six spots:
Merideth – Graham – Montano – Neagle – Seamon – Martinez. If roster expands to 30: then Prieto and Ford make it.
The players likely to lose out: Noonan, Estrada, Scott, and of course, we don’t know about The Trialist.
Much depends on salary cap requirements and whether a player such as Neagle, who played last year in USL-1 for Charleston, would accept $32,600. Or maybe the Sounders take the allocation money instead for those final two spots.
Spots 29 and 30 only pay $32,600 for the year. Rookies Prieto and Ford might be more open to that salary level. The same holds true for some of the veterans — Graham, Wahl and Levesque — who bring experience and relatively low salaries to the mix. Will they be willing to settle for less money, or certainly no salary hike for another year?
Those are the discussions being hammered out now. Sometime on March 1, Sounders fans should know who’s staying and who’s going.