COMMERCE CITY, COLO. – Seattle Sounders FC shook up its roster Friday, trading designated player Alvaro Fernandez to Chicago and quickly signing German midfielder Christian Tiffert as the sixth designated player (DP) in club history.
Tiffert will not be with Seattle tonight when it faces the Colorado Rapids.
“We wanted to bring in a player who is a central midfielder and has playmaking capabilities,” coach Sigi Schmid said in a club release. “Christian is a player who fits this mold and brings a lot of experience from the top league in Germany. His leadership and versatility make him a good fit for our club.”
The Sounders also might not be done dealing. General manager Adrian Hanauer said late Friday that the club is in advanced negotiations with midfielder Mario Martinez, “an exciting young player” now with the Honduran Olympic team.
Tiffert is a 30-year-old native of Halle, Germany. He has more than 280 appearances in the German Bundesliga and led the league with 17 assists in the 2010-11 season. He has 12 years of experience in the top leagues of Germany and Austria. He made 24 appearances with Germany’s U-21 team from 2002-04
Terms were not announced. Tiffert is scheduled to join the club next week and will be added to the roster upon receipt of his visa. His signing will return Seattle to the MLS maximum of three DPs – along with Fredy Montero and Mauro Rosales.
Room was created with the trade of Fernandez, 26, for allocation money. He had joined the Sounders on July 29, 2010 – the day before the club traded DP Freddie Ljungberg to Chicago.
In 55 MLS matches, Fernandez had 13 goals and three assists. In all competitions, he had 16 goals and 10 assists for the Sounders.
“Alvaro is an experienced player that has proven himself as an offensive weapon in MLS,” Chicago coach Frank Klopas said in a press release. “He is a versatile player and can occupy a number of positions in the midfield.”
In the short-term, the moves leave Seattle one midfielder short for today’s date with the Rapids, a club with its own share of troubles.
Colorado has lost five consecutive MLS matches. Another to the Sounders tonight would match the club record set in 1997.
“It’s a tough one,” said veteran Rapids defender Tyrone Marshall, who played for Seattle in 2009-10. “You see real character come out now. You see who is going to stick it out and try to find a way to win. And that’s what we need. We just need to find a way, whatever it takes; scrapping, pushing, grabbing, whatever it is.”
Marshall and Tyson Wahl give the Rapids two former Sounders on a back line that is taking its share of blame for Colorado’s tumble to seventh place in the Western Conference. The Rapids won the MLS Cup in 2010.
Through the losing streak, the Rapids have been outscored, 9-3. Colorado ranks 15th in MLS with a 1.43 goals-against average.
“You have to take it personally when goals are scored as a defender, even as a team as a whole,” Marshall said. “As a defender you want to take pride in not giving up goals.”
Wahl joined the effort two weeks ago in a trade with Montreal.
“I think they were bringing me in to add depth to the defense and help out,” he said. “Obviously, the team wasn’t doing well defensively, and they were looking to add a defender. I hope I can help out.”
Colorado coach Oscar Pareja says when a goal is allowed, responsibility can reach beyond the back four.
“We have been struggling with some stuff in the back, some mistakes,” he said. “But I’m not always just looking at the back four. I always look at the defensive side as a unit. … The first defender (can be a forward). It’s a collective effort.”
Schmid thinks those struggles could make the Rapids dangerous.
“They’re a team that’s going to be hungry, that’s going to be angry a little bit,” he said. “… They’re going to come out very, very motivated. So we have to make sure we match that.”
SOUNDERS FC (8-5-7; 31 POINTS) AT COLORADO RAPIDS (7-13-1; 22 POINTS)
6 p.m., Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, Colo.
TV: Ch. 6/16. RADIO: 97.3-FM.
CLUB LEADERS: Seattle: Goals 8, Eddie Johnson; assists 6, Mauro Rosales; shots 73 Fredy Montero; shots on goal 26, Montero; goals-against average 0.47, Michael Gspurning. Colorado: G 5, Jaime Castrillon and Omar Cummings; A 6, Martin Rivero; S 38, Rivero; SOG 16, Cummings; GAA 1.43, Matt Pickens.
HEAD TO HEAD: Seattle leads 6-1-1 overall, including five straight wins. The series is even at 1-1-1 at DSG Park. This is the final meeting of the season.
NOTES: Colorado is on a five-game losing streak, while being outscored, 9-3. Seattle is 1-1-3 over the same span. … Sounders All-Stars Johnson and Osvaldo Alonso should be available, and Gspurning could make his first appearance since May 2. … This is Seattle’s first visit to Colorado since April 22 of last season, when a reckless tackle by Rapids midfielder Brian Mullan fractured the right leg of Sounders midfielder Steve Zakuani. … Zakuani is listed as probable for tonight. … Colorado’s Pablo Mastroeni (headaches) is out; Conor Casey (hamstring) is questionable and Cummings (ankle) probable. … Colorado has the most losses in MLS and the fewest draws. … The Rapids are 5-4-1 at home; the Sounders are 2-2-6 on the road. … Former Seattle defenders Tyrone Marshall and Tyson Wahl now play for the Rapids. … Colorado’s average home attendance is 15,184. … Johnson and Andy Rose are one caution away from yellow-card suspension. … The referee is Paul Ward.
QUOTABLE: “I don’t think there’s any way around it for an incoming team. I think it’s an advantage (for the Rapids at home) any way you look at it.” – Wahl, on playing at mile-high elevation.
NEXT: Seattle opens 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League group play at 7 p.m. Thursday, meeting Caledonia of Trinidad. The Sounders return to MLS play Aug. 5 versus Los Angeles. Both matches will be at CenturyLink Field.firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer email@example.com