[note that Seattle already has Keller signed and penciled in as the #1]
- Crayton - will Seattle pony up for Crayton's sizable wage packet considering they already have Keller on the books?
- Wells - I've maligned him as much as most of the United blogo-verse, but he's cheap and a reasonable backup
- Carroll (Pat) - is Seattle prepared to offer him a senior contract? promising signs in his first year with the club
- Janicki - do we need to protect loanees? I'm guessing yes, and Janicki was one of the good things about a rickety defense down the stretch
- Martinez - big wage hit, but his early performances were outstanding and suggest he has the potential to be one of the better outside backs in the league
- Peralta - injury hit first season, sometimes questionable at the back, but a veteran big body who organizes the troops; would he have been more effective with Crayton cleaning up and directing traffic from the get-go?
- Burch - stuttered a bit in his second season, but is a weapon from set pieces and a cheap domestic player to boot
- McTavish - the kind of guy who can fill a bunch of holes and do it cheaply, still young
- Namoff - proven MLS veteran, generally consistent
- Kirk - is he still Generation Adidas? young, physically gifted on a team that often lacks this quality; showed signs of progress in fits and starts, both up top and out wide
- Fred - having Gallardo forces us to play him wide, where he doesn't seem to be well-suited; carries a big cap hit relative to his contributions
- Guerrero - solid MLS veteran who didn't have much time to blend with the team, but was a contributor; getting on in years, but still a part of the Honduras setup
- Olsen - fiery leader and heart of the team, but injured for the whole of 2008 and has always had injury issues; will he be fit for 2009? carries a big cap hit if he can't contribute
- Quaranta - young, talented, and seems to have gotten his life together; has the potential to be the long-term replacement for Moreno up top and can cover wide and attacking midfield; relatively cheap salary (for now)
- Simms - has he reached his peak or is there still room for growth? solid veteran who picks up a lot of minutes, but rumor has it that he's exploring options overseas
- Vide - young, cheap, decent upside; perhaps a long-term Benny replacement?
- Doe - young, cheap, seemed to be starting to find his confidence towards the end of the season; provides decent pace up top
- Moreno - captain and United legend; turned in some impressive numbers that many didn't expect in 2008; approaching the end of his career and carries a high salary for someone who might be transitioning to a sub's role next season
Fred, Doe, Martinez, Peralta, Crayton
For my money, Doe is the no-brainer here. The other four are all older players with big salary cap hits, but Doe is the type of cheap, exciting, relatively experienced player that Seattle may be looking for. Of the remaining four, I think that Martinez, despite his precipitous drop in form down the stretch, and Crayton offer the most value for money. However, I'm guessing that even if Keller isn't making DP money, he's making somewhere in the region of $150-200k. Would Seattle carry two keepers making $150k+? Doubtful.
So that leaves one of Peralta and Fred. If Seattle follows the Yallop route, they'll be looking for defenders, but Peralta carries over $200k in cap hit and isn't exactly a proven quantity in MLS. Fred, on the other hand, while his numbers may not justify his salary, seems to be the type of player that would fit Seattle's stated goal of fielding an exciting, attacking side heavy on flair. So I'm going to protect Fred over Peralta. So that gives us our three protected internationals.
In Part III, we'll sift the 13 remaining players and add 8 of them to the final list.