As the Seattle Sounders prepare to open their preseason at 15 MLS on Saturday, they find themselves in an unusual position. The sounds are coming from his first season in play-less MLS and at the very least he will have to deal with a new level of skepticism about a fan who knows almost nothing but winning.
At the same time, the Sons open camp with a roster that is very similar to the one that completed last year, with changes mostly on the periphery. Here are some of the biggest questions that will need to be answered this preseason:
Having asked a similar question at the end of 2022, Brian Schmetzer suggested that the Sounders coach may have put a little too much faith in his players and could use some of them. Of course, he did not elaborate, but I heard that one common feeling was that there was not enough internal competition to start the spots and the vague need of urgency, especially after winning the Concacaf Champions. The covenant It will be very interesting to see if any concrete changes are made from that overall feeling.
One thing we know for sure is that the Sons will have to navigate at least four different competitions this year — the Club World Cup, the US Open Cup and the League Cup in addition to the regular season — which suggests that there will be plenty of rotation regardless. – Jeremiah
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges for the Sounders heading into the final season was trying to replace João Paulo after he was injured in the 2018 final and lost for the season. By all indications, he is looking close to making a full return. With João Paulo, Soni looked at each of the teams that rightfully claim to be the best in the country. Without that argument there is a field.
If João Paulo is anything closer to 100 this year, there is nothing to think that they cannot compete in every competition that they enter. But if he needs full time to return, there may be some significant challenges. – Jeremiah
Many other questions are probably affected by how this is answered. Given that João Paulo is fit enough, you have to assume that he will be at the start. His 2021 campaign was one of the first double-doubles in MLS history. Even if something goes down, it will be almost impossible for him not to be the source. But who performs it best is an open question.
Last year, Albert Rusnak’s partner looked very nice. But that’s a fairly limited sample size and it’s entirely possible that Rusnák is more useful in the attack. Cristian Roldan is another option and was João Paulo’s partner last season before Rusnák was involved. Even one of the young guys – Danny Leyva, Jose Atencio or Obed Vargas – can improve enough to put his nose in the conversation. – Jeremiah
2022 marked its highest point, and arguably its lowest point as well. In league play, the team struggled to score goals; only five Western Conference teams have scored fewer goals than Seattle’s 47, with only FC Dallas making those plays. Their defensive record was considerably better, relatively speaking, with only four Western teams scoring fewer than 46 goals and all four making plays. A major source of the team’s offensive struggles was the striker position, as Raúl Ruidíaz, Fredy Montero and Will Bruin combined for 16 goals and 4 assists in MLS. In 2021 Ruidíaz alone had 17 goals and 1 assist.
They made a change at the striker position, swapping Bruin for Heber from NYCFC. Héber Ruidíaz could spell and end up benching when the star striker is not on the field, but Brian Schmetzer could also play them together in a double striker formation, which the team only did to start the game a total of three times. in 2022. With Nouhou likely sticking around and no clear back-up or replacement at left back, it is possible that the team could use a three-back formation to get the best out of Nouhou and also simplify the job for anyone stepping in on the left wing. No clear best option, but this is definitely a question we’ll likely see answered in the preseason for Schmetzer and his staff to get more out of the talent on the squad in the short term. – Tim
One thing that the Sons ran into last year was that, when the first choice players were marked at fullback (and wingback), the options were confused after Nouhou and Alex Roldán. Those options were, almost exclusively, Kelyn Rowe. Jimmy Medranda on the left wing sat down, Ethan Dobbelaere started against FC Cincinnati on the right wing, and Cristian Roldan returned to fill in for his brother for a season or two. For 2023 Medranda moves in and Rowe is not rightly expected to be the first backup in spots both back / wing and through the midfield without some consequence.
With 27 players currently signed, there isn’t a ton of room to add more bodies without a corresponding move, so it makes the most sense to look for backups among the players who are already here. One interesting option is Reed Baker-Whiting. He played primarily through the midfield in the professional ranks within the Health Organization, but recently deployed as a right back with the US Youth National Teams. If he can adapt to the position for the grade, he could clear his way to MLS minutes. Similarly, Sota Kitahara joined a crowded midfield group, but in his previous days with Tacoma he defied the odds and was loaned to FC Pinzgau Saalfelden in Austria as a busy RB. If either of them, or Dobbelaere, it is possible to investigate A. Roldán, which can go a long way in consolidating the roster. – Tim
Young people in some New Guys. The HGPs signed were Jacob Castro (San Diego St, University of Washington, Sounders Academy) and Kitahara (Tacoma Defiance, Sounders Academy). Currently the only acquisition outside the Héber organization.
In many ways, the club has taken the fashion of running back. This often happens after the championship, which the Sons won in May, but also failed to make the MLS Playoffs. How can I be unusual in these? In a few decades we will find out when more than one MLS team wins the Concacaf Champions League.
The club also stated that they wanted to get a younger player. That can only be done from youth, earning time. If one were to combine the two top 11s the only places you would consider the Cubs would be Léo Chú and maybe, if you are generous, Jackson Ragen. They got to trade Heber for a bit and let Bruin go.
As the youngest players in the field, in a year with a minimum number of 42 numbers (yes, that means advancing to the League Cup and playing in the game) it is for young talents to earn a season. Who will follow in the footsteps of Obed Vargas (’22), Jose Atencio (’21) and Danny Leyva, 19? He could have them. As it was not said. But there must be two or three someones playing the average age minutes to drop. – Dave
Remember those few times when Sonic was strong in non-penalty slowness? They were the opposites of 2022. Without the service of João Paulo, kicks and corners were free.
The problems went beyond the close range after targeting the corners. That way the conversion rate was acceptable. If Seattle hits the league average in set success, they’ll probably make the playoffs, things were close.
If they help;
- João Paulo’s obedience to St.
- Heber’s head
- Attention and/or Ragen.
- Maybe some new skills that the coaches won’t reveal specifically, but that they could talk about implementing.
There are now organizations dedicated to coaching assistant coaches. MLS is probably not big enough. But Seattle can spend a little more time getting a service system that can use its best talent. – Dave