By JOSE M. ROMERO
The Seattle Sounders intend to pick up forward Eddie Johnson’s 2013 contract option, certainly a reward for his 17-goal season (in all competitions) and being named MLS Comeback Player of the Year.
Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer told the Associated Press the news on Tuesday, when Hanauer and coach Sigi Schmid conducted a season wrap-up session with the media at the team’s facility in Tukwila, Wash.
Johnson, who earned a callup to the U.S. national team this year for World Cup qualifying and scored twice against Antigua & Barbuda, will be paid at less than a designated player salary. The Sounders, said Hanauer, are facing salary-cap constraints for 2013 and could make some cost-cutting moves before next season.
So while it appears Johnson will be back in rave green, it seems apparent that a few 2012 Sounders will not, with speculation that Johnson’s striker partner, Fredy Montero, could be among those.
More MLS news after the jump:
Crew exercise options on 10 players, part with GK Hesmer
The Columbus Crew picked up club options for 2013 on 10 players Wednesday, giving them 17 players on the current roster.
The team also declined options on seven players including goalkeeper Will Hesmer, who sat out much of 2012 due to a hip injury but spent six seasons with the Crew and won an MLS Cup with the team. Hesmer departs Ohio with franchise goalkeeping records in games played and started, saves, wins and shutouts.
The Crew picked up the options of goalkeepers Andy Gruenebaum and Matt Lampson, defenders Eric Gehrig and Josh Williams, midfielders Bernardo Anor, Dilly Duka, Ethan Finlay and Kevan George and forwards Justin Meram and Aaron Schoenfeld.
Those whose contract options were not picked up, beyond Hesmer, were defenders Rich Balchan, Julius James and Sebastian Miranda, midfielders Chris Birchall and Tony Tchani and forward Tommy Heinemann.
Toronto FC welcomes Payne to town
New Toronto FC president and general manager Kevin Payne was officially introduced in Canada Wednesday.
Payne said he intends to retain Paul Mariner as TFC’s head coach. He also said he intends to meet with the club’s supporters groups soon, and that the job he took is the only one he would have left DC United for.
Payne, 59, spent the past 16 seasons with DCU and as CEO guided that team to four MLS Cups.
He’ll oversee both team and business operations for Toronto FC, which is entering its seventh season in MLS in 2013 and has never made the playoffs despite tremendous fan support.