Looking back on a season of improvement, a 14-10-6 record and a second U.S. Open Cup title, Sounders FC feels no great desire to break up its roster.
However, keeping that roster together will have its challenges. Among them: the expansion draft, a new re-entry draft for certain MLS veterans and the international options of some of the club’s best players.
“There may be more (roster turnover) with this second stage of the re-entry draft,” Sounders technical director Chris Henderson said Monday. “There will be a lot of interesting players out there, who maybe you get them down to a salary you think might work for your club. There may be some players who have been in the league that you think could help your team. It’s hard to say because we haven’t been through it before.”
Henderson spoke as the Sounders were beginning a week that will include end-of-season meetings with all current players. The plan is for those interviews to conclude by Thursday, when club officials will travel to Toronto in advance of the MLS Cup final there on Sunday.
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By Monday, Seattle and every other MLS club had to submit a list of 11 players to be protected in the Nov. 24 expansion draft. Everyone not protected will be available for selection by the incoming Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps.
The Sounders believe their depth makes it likely that they will lose the maximum of two players.
After that subtraction, the club once again can turn its attention to addition.
“It depends who we lose and what positions we lose,” Henderson said. “... We have a depth chart at every position of players around the world, and players in the college game, and players in USL. We have a bunch of different charts, and we use them, and we have some phone calls that we have to make if we lose a guy at that position we need.”
Even after the expansion draft, the Sounders could lose high-profile players such as Fredy Montero and Steve Zakuani to other leagues around the world.
Zakuani was not at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila on Monday because of international duty with the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, Montero addressed the issue.
“For sure, the first option is to stay here,” he said through a translator. “But I also need to keep my eye on what else can happen. My family is an important factor in all my decision-making.”
One seemingly encouraging issue is team health. The Sounders announced that forward Nate Jaqua (hip) and reserve goalkeeper Terry Boss (toe) have undergone surgery over the past few days.
Coach Sigi Schmid said all known physical issues should be resolved by the team the 2011 season begins in March. But he knows other changes await.
“The group that I met with today is not going to be the same group that comes in next year,” Schmid said. “... Maybe some additional help up front is something that is important for us. We want to continue to have depth in all areas of the field, so we will continue to look there. Our specific needs right now those are something we are going over, we are talking about and after the expansion draft we will go ahead full-steam.”