As expected, the Sounders Saturday bought out the contract of Christian Tiffert, who played 12 games for Seattle in 2012. The 31-year-old midfielder from Halle, Germany, was one of three designated players, the MLS maximum, so a spot has been created for the potential arrival of Obafemi Martins, a 28-year-old striker from Nigeria whose acquisition from his team in Valencia, Spain, is expected soon.
In a Feb. 22 conference call with reporters, coach Sigi Schmid was elusive about Tiffert’s fate.
“There are things that are being discussed with regard to Christian, and part of that is really a better question for (GM Adrian Hanauer) as to where that is,” Schmid said. “He’s not with us right now. He’s training on his own there. He seems to be doing all right with the things that were bothering him at the time. But now it’s gone into another phase that Adrian can address better than I.”
The Sounders faced an MLS deadline of Saturday, the start of the regular season, to decide the fate of Tiffert, who last year made $625,000. Tiffert, who in 2010-11 led Germany’s Bundesliga with 17 assists, became a starter in his second game in Seattle and had three assists in the regular season and another in the playoffs. But he stayed away from the team in training, knowing he was not in the future.
Throughout the off-season, the Sounders were up against the MLS’s salary cap, $3 million for 2013, and made decisions to part with two top starters, Fredy Montero and Jeff Parke, at least partly due to money considerations. Salaries to DPs are not as constrained, but the Sounders will be paying a premium — said to be in some reports from Europe to be nearly $5 million — to extract Martins from his team during playoffs.
The Sounders’ other DPs for the opener against Montreal at 7:30 p.m. Saturday are Mauro Rosales and newcomer Shalrie Joseph, 34, who is not fit for game action and is nursing a strained calf.