The Seattle Sounders have signed forward Clint Dempsey to a one-year deal for the 2018 season that provides more salary flexibility for the club, general manager Garth Lagerwey confirmed on Tuesday.
Lagerwey did not get into specifics about Dempsey's deal but did confirm he will remain a designated player for Seattle and that the contract is only for the 2018 season, for which the Sounders held a club option under the forward's previous deal.
Sources told ESPN FC last month that Dempsey had signed a one-year deal worth between $1.5-2 million. According to the MLS Players' Union, Dempsey earned $3.89m in guaranteed compensation in 2017.
"Clint worked with us and he's taking less money than he was on before to come back," Lagerwey said. "Still well-paid, well-compensated, but yes we hope long term that creates a little more balance with respect to our DP spend."
Dempsey returned from an irregular heartbeat that ended his 2016 season early and was named Comeback Player of the Year for 2017. He led the Sounders this season with 12 goals in the regular season and three more in the playoffs.
Dempsey, 34, is perhaps the most decorated U.S. player ever. His 57 goals are tied with the Landon Donovan for the most in team history, and he scored in three straight World Cups.
At club level, Dempsey has spent time with the New England Revolution, Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur, and Seattle. Over the course of a 14-year professional career, Dempsey has amassed 151 goals in 456 appearances across all competitions.
Lagerwey was already looking ahead to next year just three days after the Sounders stumbled in their attempt to win a second straight MLS Cup title. The Sounders lost to Toronto 2-0 in the final on Saturday. By Tuesday, they had to make key roster decisions for moving ahead.
With Dempsey secured and 11 other players with their contract options exercised, the Sounders have 22 players under contract.
Lagerwey said he believes Seattle's roster construction is further ahead of where it was at this point a year ago when the club was celebrating its first MLS title.
"With 22 guys under contract, with more or less a starting 11 on paper in front of us already, I think we've got a really good base," Lagerwey said. "What that does is allows us to make the best possible decision for our club. Will we fill roster spots to fill roster spots? No. Are we honestly ahead of where we were last year? I believe we are because our starting lineup is in a better place, our depth is in a better place. I think we're a better, more sustainable age."
Lagerwey will need a stable roster from the outset next season with the Sounders playing in the CONCACAF Champions League beginning in February. Lagerwey said the club intends to take advantage of an increase in targeted allocation money to fill gaps in the roster and help build depth for a season where Seattle could play up to 48 games.
One roster issue Lagerwey may need to resolve is some unhappiness from midfielder Osvaldo Alonso. An original since the club's expansion season in 2009, Alonso was made available for Tuesday's MLS expansion draft, and tweeted his dissatisfaction on Sunday.
Lagerwey said it was a calculated risk making Alonso available so that other players could be protected. Seattle lost goalkeeper Tyler Miller in the draft.
"Ozzie is under contract for next year and like any other player under contract we would assume he'll continue with us," Lagerwey said.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.