Sounders Cement Themselves
The Sounders FC expansion draft was conducted Wednesday and the new Seattle franchise did quite well. Nate Jaqua returned to MLS after a successful season in Europe, largely with the idea of playing for the Sounders, so his choice was pre ordained. But the other choices much like San Jose a year ago took a knowledge of MLS to make. The Sounders have passed the test with flying colors and now have a very competitive team despite the questionable DP signing of Freddie Ljunberg.
Following the Quakes philosophy of building from the back several good choices were made. Nate Sturgis is still a player with incredible upside should he ever show the ability to stay healthy for a long period of time. James Riley should work well with Sturgis and Pete Vagenas to allow Seattle the flexibility to play with a 3 or 4 man backline, and have multiple options at holding midfielder. Jeff Parke is a great pick for any expansion team, banned substance not withstanding and Tyson Wahl is also a competent professional that can start for most MLS teams. Kasey Keller can be rest assured that he will not have to stand on his head in year one for the Sounders to remain competitive, even if Jeff Parke takes off to Europe as had been reported.
Picking Khano Smith gives Seattle a veteran option on the left side: Smith still had his moments with New England this year but was clearly being phased out in favor of Mauricio Castro. Brad Evans can play on the right side. Adding Jarrod Smith to an attack that already includes Jaqua, Sebastian LeToux and Freddie Ljunberg (who will likely play right behind the forwards)should make the Sounders potent when Smith is not away on Confederations Cup duty for New Zealand during the summer. In addition, Sanna Nyassi will give the Sounders a counter attacking punch late in matches.
I like what Seattle has done with this expansion draft and believe that despite the poor signing of Ljunberg that the Sounders can make the playoffs next year if things cut right.