It may not come as the biggest of surprises, but I believe today was the first time that I've heard anyone with the Sounders say that designated player Blaise Nkufo will not be with the team in 2012 or beyond.
Coach Sigi Schmid's comment came in response to a question about whether the arrival of O'Brian White and others gave the Sounders so many similar big forwards alongside Fredy Montero that there might be an interest in trading someone from the current list.
"You can never say never on those situations," Schmid said. "But we’re in a situation where we’ve got two players that we pretty much know are in their last year: One is Kasey Keller and the other is Blaise Nkufo. And from that standpoint as well you don’t necessarily want to move somebody when you’re going to need that person a year from now; or now maybe you move somebody because maybe you don’t need them right away – this instant – and then next off-season you’re looking for that type of guy. So that’s what we’re trying to balance right now."
The question about the trade came as a follow-up to this Schmid response about his forwards, in which he seems to indicate that he is pleased with a long list of players: "I think all our forwards are competing," he said. "Competition is good within a team, and I don’t think anybody has a spot locked up. If they feel they have it locked up, that’s the moment they’re going to start to loose their grip on it. For us right now, Nkufo was coming off his injury, so we wanted to be a little careful with him. But we expect him to play 45 minutes on Saturday against Chicago. We played him with our other group against Dallas just to push a little bit and see where he is physically. Jaqua is still a little bit away from being able to play. Obviously O’Brian White is another guy who is competing there. Fucito’s competing. Montero. We have different options. Lamar Neagle and (David) Estrada have had their best minutes up front as well. There have been a lot of options that way and all that group is competing against each other. The quality is the quality that they show in the games, and that’s where the decisions are going to get made."