It looks as though one of the stranger moves in Seattle Sounders FC history will be dealt with before the season begins on March 8 at CenturyLink Field against the defending champion Sporting Kansas City.
Just over 11 months ago, the Sounders announced a very puzzling trade with Chivas USA that would send four-time MLS Best XI midfielder Shalrie Joseph, along with the no. 3 spot in the allocation order and two draft picks, to Seattle for the no. 15 spot in the allocation order.
The biggest issue with this trade would be whether Joseph could come at 35-years old with a Designated Player salary and be the impact player that Seattle had hoped for. It was the dream in the Emerald City that Joseph would be the cog that allowed Osvaldo Alonso to push more into the attack. In the end though, it was a massive dud.
Joseph made 14 appearances across all competitions for the Sounders, but only started in consecutive league games once early in the season. The rest of his year was derailed by numerous injuries: knee, calf and hamstring strains kept him off the field and out of the 18-man game day rosters.
The only major contribution that Joseph had with the Sounders was accepting a pay cut to clear the needed room against the salary cap so that the Sounders could bring in Clint Dempsey in August as the team’s third Designated Player alongside Obafemi Martins and Mauro Rosales. Joseph will most likely make the same contribution when the Sounders buy out his massive contract to allow for possibly signing another impact player such as Marco Pappa.
Getting rid of Joseph will put even more pressure on Alonso to keep himself healthy and out of trouble with the league, as his immediate backup would be Andy Rose. The depth issue at defensive midfield would have likely been better had the club kept Servando Carrasco instead of dealing him for current FC Dallas midfielder Adam Moffat, though that’s another story.
Shalrie has had a magnificent MLS career starting with the New England Revolution, where he made 261 league appearances in his 10 seasons at Gillette Stadium. He was one of the best defensive midfielders in his prime, and will go down as one of the greatest midfielders to play during the early days of the league.