Seattle Sounders FC compensates its designated players at a combined rate of about $10 million annually.
It’s appears to be money well spent.
The Western Conference leaders are 9-3-1 when playing with at least one of their DPs, 0-2-1 when playing without any. The Sounders have been shut out in all of those contests: a scoreless draw at Dallas on March 28, a 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City on June 6 and a 2-0 home loss to San Jose on Saturday.
DP forwards Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins and midfielder Osvaldo Alonso are expected to be out again Wednesday when the Sounders play at the Philadelphia Union.
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Dempsey will be serving the second of a three-game disciplinary suspension handed down by Major League Soccer. Martins will need at least a couple more weeks to recover from a groin injury. Alonso is the closest but still not cleared with a hamstring strain.
“We have to throw this to the side and say, ‘What can we do better?’ ” veteran defender Zach Scott said after the loss to San Jose. “Take out the things we did well and then look at our mistakes and then go into the Philly match looking to turn things around as quickly as possible. It’s still early enough in the season where teams can catch up, and we can’t get into a situation where we’re not playing well and slowly but surely we find ourselves in a position where we’re fighting for a playoff spot instead of leading the league.”
Coach Sigi Schmid has said the club’s attitude is the same with or without any particular player or combination of players: They expect to win, and the expect the replacement players to make the most of the opportunities.
And there could be additional reinforcements Wednesday, as Schmid said forward Chad Barrett could return from a left hamstring strain, and veteran midfielder Gonzalo Pineda could return from a left knee bruise.
However, Dempsey, Martins and Alonso are not the kind of players that are easily replaced, which is why they receive roughly $6.7 million, $3 million and $400,000 in respective annual compensation.
Dempsey and Martins share the team’s goals lead with seven each. Even when they’re not scoring, their presence on the field creates opportunities for others.
“They help us sustain possession,” rookie midfielder Cristian Roldan said. “And when you take out those two guys it becomes a very different game for us.”
Alonso has been an MLS All-Star for the past four seasons and has been voted the Sounders’ Most Valuable Player four times. He was replaced Saturday by second-year player Micheal Azira. Roldan replaced Pineda.
“I think Azira and Roldan played really well,” coach Sigi Schmid said after the San Jose loss. “As the tandem deeper in the middle I thought they were fine.”