We are now less than 20 days away from the start of Major League Soccer’s training camp and pre-season action, and teams are putting the finishing touches on their rosters in preparation for the 2021 season.
Teams recently completed their super draft of college players, and the player transfer window (loaning/selling players to other teams all over the world) continues.
I know it is early, and there is still time before games start on April 3, but what exactly are the Seattle Sounders doing?
Last season’s runner up to the MLS Cup trophy has yet to make a splash this postseason. The revolving door of players seems to be stuck in the outward direction. What’s going on?
Again, there is still time for player movement, and I anticipate a few players on last season’s roster not currently under contract will re-sign for the season.
But as it stands right now, the list of players NOT on the current roster who were around last year and contributed to the deep postseason run is somewhat alarming.
Gone are Jordan Morris, Gustav Svensson, Joevin Jones, Kelvin Leerdam, and Roman Torres just to name a few. Those players alone would make a decent foundation for any team.
So, whom have they brought in? Kelyn Rowe, Jimmy Meranda, Spencer Richey?
Really? That’s who we are supposed to get excited about?
The departure of Morris to Swansea City in Wales leaves a HUGE gap in the roster. Gone is the one player whose strength and speed made other teams game plan around. He was the one, the only one, who could get behind the other team’s defense and create goal-scoring chances. You can’t coach speed.
No other player on the Sounders frightened teams like Jordan Morris.
Nicolas Lodeiro and Rual Ruidiaz are both dangerous players with the ball at their feet near the goal. But neither one of them has foot speed that scares anyone. With no player capable of out-running a defense, it makes things much easier to contain Seattle. Shrink the field, clog the passing lanes for Lodeiro, deny Ruidiaz the ball, and the Sounders are toothless (see recent MLS Cup loss). Where will the goals come from?
No one can blame Morris for testing his skills in Europe; honestly, it’s surprising he didn’t leave earlier. It will benefit Morris tremendously to train and play at a higher level. The biggest benefactor may be the U.S. men’s national team, who, I would imagine, plan to use Morris extensively throughout a busy year of World Cup qualifying and regional tournaments.
Good for Jordan! He has been nothing but terrific for the Sounders; however, he will be sorely missed. There is a scenario where he returns to Seattle, but it is unlikely.
As a Sounders’ fan, I just have to ask about goal scoring. Can Nicolas Lodeiro and Ruidaz really carry this team in 2021? If so, they will need a lot more help than what is on the current roster.
So, who will the team bring in to bolster this roster? Good question. The departure of technical director Chris Henderson, who has been with the team since 2008, hurts badly. He left to take a similar position with Inter Miami FC and owner David Beckham. He can’t be chastised for leaving for family reasons, but he will be missed. He was responsible for bringing impact players like Clint Dempsey, Obefemi Martins, Ruidiaz, Lodeiro, and Roman Torres among others.
He has a knack for unearthing players from around the world, whom only the die-hard followers have ever heard of. Most all of his players have been homeruns in terms of on-field impact. His replacement, whoever that may be, has some ginormous shoes to fill.
So far, the players they have brought in since his departure are nice additions, but nobody is a game changer.
Kelyn Rowe is a good addition, but he is a role player and spot starter. He is 29 years old and on the back nine of his career. Yes, he will contribute, and I see a few much-needed goals in his future, but his signing just doesn’t get me pumped for the season. Sorry.
Re-signing Joao Paulo in the defensive midfield is a plus. However, I still think he is too similar to Cristian Roldan and Gustav Svensson. But if Svensson doesn’t return, as is rumored, Roldan and Paulo make a good team, and I foresee Rowe in that mix as well.
With aging legs up and down the roster, the Sounders need to get younger and faster. They do have some promising, talented youngsters in the pipeline, but what kind of impact can they really have at this stage? If they are relying on them this year, this could be a long season.
Expectations for Seattle fans are, and always will be, through the roof, based solely on the team’s past success. Winning two MLS Cups and making it to the final game four out of the last five years tends to spoil fans.
Head coach Brian Schmetzer is back with a new contract, and general manager Garth Lagerwey is still calling the shots, so the team is in good hands.
I’d just like to see them get off their hands and start signing some impact players. I’ll wait anxiously by the transaction wire in the coming days.
I can’t imagine them letting Sounders’ fans down.