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March 22, 2012 at 2:33 PM

Sounders buy out the contract of injured forward O’Brian White for 2012

white mug 2012.jpgAfter seeking out multiple medical opinions across the country, the Sounders have elected to buy out the guaranteed contract of injured forward O’Brian White for the 2012 season, the team announced Thursday.

White, 26, has suffered from recurring blood clots in his left leg since last year and has undergone at least two surgeries (first in April, then in August after a setback).

“Unfortunately, because of his medical situation, we have reached an agreement to buy out O’Brian White’s contract,” said Adrian Hanauer, general manager and part owner, in a news release. “We will fully support O’Brian and will continue to help him rehabilitate with the hope he can resume his playing career.”

MLS teams are allowed the option of buying out one guaranteed contract before their first regular-season game and this decision was made prior to Saturday’s opening day. As a result, White will be paid his six-figure salary (and receive medical coverage), but he won’t count toward the roster or against the team’s $2.81 million salary cap.

Seattle will retain the right of first refusal when it comes to White, so in the unlikely circumstance that another team makes him an offer this year, the Sounders can match it. The Jamaican international will also be able to continue his rehab efforts with the team and be a part of the group in hopes of a 2013 return. In the offseason, he would also be eligible for the MLS Re-Entry Process if he chooses.

According to data released by the players’ union, White made $100,000 last season. Since he’s entering his fourth year in MLS, his contract was guaranteed once Seattle picked up his option at the end of 2011.

This is the second year in a row the Sounders have bought out a contract Last season, the team and forward Blaise Nkufo decided to mutually part ways through use of the same mechanism.

Coincidentally, White took Nkufo’s place in the starting lineup and got off to a great start to the season — two goals and two assists in the first seven games — before he was first diagnosed with blood clotting.

Sounders officials have said they were motivated to go after forward Eddie Johnson in preseason in part due to the uncertainty surrounding White’s recovery.

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