By Money Mike
The Expansion Draft took place today with the Montreal Impact joining Major League Soccer in 2012. The Seattle Sounders yet again lose a key player. As a matter of fact, they lose two key players. The Montreal Impact selected James Riley before trading him immediately to Chivas USA in exchange for Justin Braun and Gerson Mayen. The Impact also acquired left back Tyson Wahl from the Sounders for allocation money, which can be used to buy down player salaries in relation to the salary cap. Former Sounder midfielder Sanna Nyassi was also taken by Montreal in the Expansion Draft. If all the speculation is true, it looks like there is another trade involving the Sounders and the Montreal Impact with Miguel Montano heading to Montreal, but there is no information at this point.
Riley joined the Seattle Sounders in 2009 having been selected by them in the Expansion draft. In his three years here, Riley made a total of 84 league appearances and scored one goal and assisted on nine others. He was voted Defender of the Year for the club and was also voted the clubs Humanitarian of the Year the past two seasons for his contributions in the community. Riley became a fan favorite here in Seattle for all of his hard work not only on the pitch, but in the community as well. With him gone, the Sounders also lose that veteran approach that Riley brought to the team. Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer said that there are going to be some changes defensively, but I didn't see this being one of them nor did the rest of the Sounder nation here in Seattle.
Wahl was another Sounder selected in the Expansion draft prior to the 2009 season. He's received some critisism from fans about his work rate a few times during the 2011 season, but you can't deny the fact that he was the most improved player on this Sounders team during the 2011 season making 23 appearances, scoring one goal and two assists. He got more playing time in 2011 than he did in his first two seasons combined here in Seattle and he got more playing time here in Seattle than he did in his three seasons with the Kansas City Wizards. This guy emerged as a weapon with dangerous crosses on set pieces. Another huge loss defensively for the Sounders.
Thoughts on Riley and Wahl leaving/Who do you go after in the transfer window?
In all honesty, I'm upset about these two guys leaving the Sounders after all the hard work on the pitch. The positive sign is that these two had a combined salary of $150,000 in 2011, so the departure of these two should give the Sounders more money to spend during the offseason.
Now there have been a couple of questions regarding home-grown talent. If you want to look for a replacement at right back, draft DeAndre Yedlin who, of course, is a defender and obviously a big deal with the University of Akron. In case you guys haven't kept track of the Sounders FC Academy, Yedlin is a native of Seattle who spent a couple years in the Sounders youth system. Yes he's only a freshman at Akron, but how often do you see a freshman defender make 22 appearances with one goal and six assists? How often do you see stats like that. I think he should enter the 2012 MLS SuperDraft and I think the Sounders should draft him in the first round. If you want a find somebody at right back, get somebody who has been in you're youth system, who knows about the team, and has prooven himself that he's ready to take his game to the next level.
Now with Wahl gone as well, who do you replace at left back? There was a rumor a week ago about Joachim Thomassen signing with the club. He's listed as a midfielder, but he can also play left back. So with Tyson Wahl now with Montreal, maybe the Sounders should consider picking up Thomassen.