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November 23, 2011 at 1:41 PM

Sounders lose defender James Riley, trade Tyson Wahl

riley wahl.jpgTwo key defenders from the 2011 season are no longer with the Sounders after a flurry of action Wednesday in the MLS Expansion Draft. Montreal selected right back James Riley (pictured, left) with the ninth pick, but immediately traded him to Chivas USA for midfielder Gerson Mayen and forward Justin Braun.

The Impact also announced it has acquired left back Tyson Wahl (right) from the Sounders in exchange for allocation money.

At the last salary update in September, Riley was making about $98,000 and Wahl was at about $57,000. That means, presumably, that more than $150,000 are off the books for Sounders FC now, plus the allocation money it received from Montreal in the Wahl trade.

Riley, 29, has been Seattle’s starting right back for three years. He played in 38 games in 2011 in all competitions (starting a career high 29) and had two assists. Riley was voted the team’s Defender of the Year in 2010 and has been voted the club’s Humanitarian of the Year the last two seasons.

In 84 MLS games for the Sounders, Riley finished with one goal and five assists. He was also the team’s representative to the players’ union.

“It’s not surprising that James Riley was picked by Montreal,” said coach Sigi Schmid in a news release. “He’s been our starting right back for three years and a quality player. We knew it would be a risk to not protect him. He’s a veteran who can step in and help a defense right away.”

Wahl, 27, made a career-high 22 starts in MLS this season and was the first-choice left back for most of the season. Arguably the most improved player on the team, Wahl emerged as a weapon on set pieces, taking 31 corner kicks this season (the most in his career) and scoring a brilliant free-kick goal against New England that was voted MLS Goal of the Week. He also had two assists and logged a career-high 1989 minutes.

A starter in both the 2009 and 2010 U.S. Open Cup finals, Wahl appeared in 39 MLS matches for the Sounders and started 33.

“Tyson has been solid contributor, earning more minutes with each season,” said Schmid said in another release. “We’ll miss his value to our team, but this trade enables him to be a full-time starter and the allocation money will help us maintain the high quality in our team.”

Both Riley and Wahl were acquired by Seattle in the MLS Expansion Draft before the 2009 season.

What do you make of the day’s moves?

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