Sounders FC has confirmed that the club and designed player Blaise Nkufo have parted ways. Their wording is: "mutually agreed to end the Swiss forward's association with the club, effective immediately."
Here's the rest of the release from the club:
The details of Nkufo's status are being negotiated by Sounders FC, the player's representative and Major League Soccer.
"We want to thank Blaise for his contributions to the team last season," said Adrian Hanauer, general manager. "Blaise is a quality person and we wish him nothing but the best."
Nkufo, 35, finished third on the team with five goals in 2010. He plaed in 11 regular season matches and 16 in all competitions.
One of three Designated Players on the roster, Nkufo had joined Seattle on July 15 after representing Switzerland in the FIFA World Cup. His previous seven seasons were spent with Holland's FC Twente.
"This improves our flexibility with regard to the salary cap," said Hanauer.
My take: Sounders DPs are becoming like Spinal Tap drummers, not a position of job security to say the very least.
OK, I know Nkufo in only two ways: what he did on the pitch for the Sounders and how he interacted with the media here. I can't imagine that he'll be missed in either capacity.
His relationship with the media was polite distant tolerance last season, replaced by blank-stare-avoidance this preseason.
More importantly, it was the same blank stare that appeared too often on the pitch, as the game happened around him. In that capacity -- the one that matters, the pitch -- this could be good news.
The exact timing -- official word coming about an hour before First Kick -- isn't anyone's idea of ideal. However, this departure should allow O'Brian White a several-game starting test before Nate Jaqua will be available to either slide into the starting lineup or provide the 1-2 depth at the position that is probably all they'll need anyway.
(Speaking of timing: Nkufo's profile information is included in the game notes handed out tonight at Qwest Field. So it's safe to assume this departure fell together very quickly.)
In any case, it seems clear the Sounders were ready -- if not eager -- for life without Nkufo when they left him exposed in the expansion draft. It was telling that even his current hometown team of Vancouver didn't take him.
Finally, with DPs Ljungberg and now Nkufo sort of ingloriously departed and the jury very much out on Alvaro Fernandez, designated players may be emerging as the most significant blemish on Adrian Hanauer's otherwise rock-solid record as general manager.