It all started to make sense after Shalrie Joseph reworked his contract. There was room in the budget for a major move by Seattle Sounders. One more move to keep up with the Johnsons in Portland and stay in the hunt for a playoff spot.
The Clint Dempsey rumors were really flying since Thursday night: transfer to Everton, potential trades with Portland for allocation spot, and a lot of trolling and rick-rolling on Twitter amongst fans and media alike. [24 Hour Clint Dempsey Drama | Soccerly] Excitement for the incipient arrival for the US International was palpable, flickered, and exploded Friday when a transfer appeared imminent.
Sounders haven’t kept up with the pace of MLS 2013, or at least they had higher expectations than their slightly above average spot on the table would indicate. Their playoff spot is far from secure, after an early exit from the US Open Cup, and a slightly better (best ever) performance in the CONCACAF Champions League, only left MLS Cup as the remaining accolade left in Sounders 4th MLS campaign.
What have Sounders been missing in 2013? Goals.
Clint Dempsey certainly has delivered goals consistently throughout his career in MLS, EPL, and Internationally. Dempsey also has shown mental toughness that will hopefully influence his new teammates.
This feels like a can’t miss signing for Seattle, but their track record with signing DPs (Ljungberg, Nkufo, Fernandez, Tiffert) hasn’t been great. Martins certainly looks the part, missed a couple easy goals, has had some injury problems, but he’s been good and could easily go on a scoring tear. On paper this roster can’t miss.
Where will Dempsey play? His usual positions of left-mid and striker adds another wrinkle to the Eddie Johnson, Lamar Neagle dilemma. Not a bad problem to have but a decision needs to be made.
The risk of paying an alleged $9 million in transfer money is a tidy bit of business for Tottenham (breaking even) and a big risk for Sounders. Dempsey will receive a reported $8 million a season. Reported team payroll is just under $6 million.
At a salary nearly 4 times what Obafemi Martins earns, more than 50 times what Eddie Johnson earns from the club, Dempsey needs to bring leadership as well as his talent on the field. It’s clear that the front office feels that he is worth that kind of commitment.
Sounders can probably afford that figure. Don’t be surprised if there are some new sections opening up at CenturyLink. Plus the huge spike in jersey sales. Open up some more seats against Portland, LA, and season finale, and if you make it into the playoffs anything could potentially happen, even a run to the MLS Cup.
Sounders playoff picture is not that dire, they are only 6 points away from the 3rd seed in the West. Sounders have more matches to play than their Western rivals.
FC Dallas in Seattle tomorrow night, Dempsey will be there allegedly, although not to play. Seems a bit surreal, believe it when he’s there.
For any Timbers fans scratching their heads about MLS’ Allocation process, you aren’t alone. It’s a curious rule apparently only meant for non-DP level players who left for other leagues. Brek Shea, Sacha Kljestan, Suart Holden, and their ilk.
I don’t disagree with allocation not being applied, as it is a rather pointless and meaningless rule, but as a matter of fairness it does seem to fly in the face of what conventional wisdom thought of the allocation process before August 2, 2013.