Seattle’s midfield was bolstered on January 27th when the team traded an international slot to the Montreal Impact for hometown hero Lamar Neagle. The club made another major addition by acquiring veteran midfielder Shalrie Joseph--along with second round draft picks in 2014 and 2015 and the third spot in the allocation order--from Chivas USA. In isolation, the move was a clear win for the Sounders; Joseph is an accomplished veteran of the league, and though his 2012 performance was not up to his established standard Seattle gave up essentially nothing to acquire him--as well as the draft picks and approved allocation ranking--at a reduced salary.
In context however, it was a bit perplexing. Joseph’s preferred position is in central midfield, where the Sounders have Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans and Designated Player Christian Tiffert. Though Joseph can play in central defense as well, that the Sounders announced they planned to sign former Liverpool and Marseille defender Djimi Traore seemed to diminish the need for cover at the position. By all appearances, Joseph was primed to be a very expensive fourth-choice option at two different positions and with the season weeks away from starting, it was difficult to see the Sounders squad as anything but significantly less talented than the one that finished the season.