BY SPNW Staff 04:27PM 11/23/2011

Sounders lose Riley in expansion draft; trade Wahl

The Sounders’ defense, already missing retiring goalkeeper Kasey Keller, took another hit Wednesday when the team lost James Riley in the expansion draft to Montreal.

The Sounders lost defender James Riley to Montreal Wednesday in the MLS expansion draft. / Kyle Scholzen, Sportspress Northwest

Sounders FC knew it was likely to lose a good player, but they also lost a team leader and community asset when Montreal claimed popular defender James Riley, 29, in the MLS expansion draft Wednesday. Following the pick, Riley was traded to Chivas USA for Justin Braun and Gerson Mayen.

He started a career-high 29 matches last season and appeared in 38 games across all competitions.

“It’s not surprising that James Riley was picked by Montreal,” said coach Sigi Schmid said in a club statement. “He’s been our starting right back for three years and a quality player. We knew it would be a risk to not protect him. He’s a veteran who can step in and help a defense right away.”

This was the third time the expansion draft moved Riley. He spent his first three MLS seasons with New England before being selected by San Jose in the 2008 draft. In 2009, he was chosen by Seattle, where he one goal and five assists, starting 83 of 84 matches. He was voted the club’s Humanitarian of the Year in 2010 and 2011 and was also named the club’s Defender of the Year in 2010.

Montreal, which begins play in March, also traded traded with Seattle, acquiring defender Tyson Wahl for allocation money.

Of Wahl, Schmid said: “Tyson has been solid contributor, earning more minutes with each season. We’ll miss his value to our team, but this trade enables him to be a full-time starter and the allocation money will help us maintain the high quality in our team.”

Montreal’s first pick was Brian Ching from Houston. The Impact also took former Sounder Sanna Nyassi, who was taken from Seattle in last year’s expansion draft.

The Sounders announced earlier they had protected forwards Fredy Montero and Sammy Ochoa; midfielders Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Alvaro Fernandez, Erik Friberg, Lamar Neagle, Mauro Rosales and Steve Zakuani, and defenders Jeff Parke and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado.

Montreal selected 10 unprotected players, with the provision that no team can lose more than one.

NEW TURF: The Seahawks and Sounders announced earlier that a new FieldTurf surface will be installed at the Clink in early February. The original turf was installed in 2008 and was worn. The arrival of the University of Washington football team for the 2012 season hastened the decision.

The first major action on the new field will be March 7, when the Sounders host Mexico’s Santos Laguna in the first game of a CONCACF Champions League quarterfinal.


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