By Ridge Mahoney
The refusal by French defender Julian Baudet to report for preseason training with Seattle isn’t causing Coach Sigi Schmid too much concern. Nor should it.
A day after celebrating the MLS Cup victory by Colorado came the announcement he’d been traded to Seattle in exchange for midfielder Peter Vagenas. Though
he’d come to the Rapids in 2009 with a decade of pro experience in France and England, he labored to hold a regular spot after suffering a broken arm in his debut against New York in late July.
The trade that brought Marvell Wynne from Toronto on the eve of the 2010 season opener cut into his playing time, as Coach Gary Smith deployed Wynne at
center back rather than the right-back slot he’d played for TFC and for the U.S. U-20s and national team.
Baudet played outside as well as in the middle, and ironically at times displaced Danny Earls, a left back who was also part of the Vagenas trade.
Usually, Smith went with Wynne and Drew Moor, who played every minute, in the middle. Late in the season, Smith acquired Anthony Wallace from FC Dallas in a trade and installed him as the starter at left back, edging Baudet further out of the picture.
If anything, the Seattle back line figures to be one of the deepest in MLS this season, so Baudet’s recalcitrance isn’t surprising, nor is it likely to hurt the Sounders. Jeff Parke and Patrick Ianni saw extensive time last year with the injury absence of Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and loss of form by Tyrone Marshall.
Though Marshall has departed, several other defenders on the roster, including Tyson Wahl and SuperDraft pick Juan Leone Cruz, can also play centrally.
Earls, 21, and SupeDraft pick Michael Tetteh will provide competition and cover for Costa Rican left back Leonardo Gonzalez, who took over the starting job after being signed in early July. The ambitious Sounders, who have won the U.S. Open Cup and made the playoffs in both seasons since joining MLS, are renowned for spreading around the playing time, and winning while doing it.
That’s a great situation for a young player like Earls, but not appealing enough for Baudet, who did play the final 30 minutes of MLS Cup as a sub and also converted a penalty-kick in the tiebreaker win against Columbus in the first round.
A tight Seattle salary cap and the prospect of limited playing time have prompted Baudet to find a new employer and the Sounders aren’t waiting around for the outcome of that quest. They have spent rather handsomely to convert Fredy Montero’s loan into a transfer and upgrade him to a Designated Player, and
are well-stocked in the back.
“[Baudet] wants to be a starter somewhere,” said Seattle general manager Adrian Hanauer to mlssoccer.com. “We gave him the ability to shop around and look at his options. At this point, he doesn’t fit into our plans, but he is our MLS property. ... We’ll take it as it comes.”