2011 MLS Preview: Seattle Sounders
Seattle Sounders FC
Stadium and Location
Qwest Field, Seattle, Washington.
Coach (with record as MLS coach)
Sigi Schmidt (GER) (14-10-6)
2010 LEAGUE RESULTS:
4th in Western Conference, 6th Overall.
A solid season for the Sounders saw them finish well in their conference before a strong Galaxy side ended their time in the play-offs.
A rather disappointing Champions League campaign was off set slightly by the US Open Cup win. Despite both Steve Zakuani and Fredy Montero hitting double figures for the club they actually struggled for goals failing to break the 40 league goals mark. Their defensive record was little to write home about also, conceding 35 goals.
ROSTER ADDITIONS: The club have brought in 6 in the close season but have already waived Irishman Danny Earles. The ongoing negotiations with veteran Julian Baudet seem unlikely to rectify themselves with the ex-Colorado player spending time on trial with Celtic in February.
Erik Friberg looks the most interesting prospect having joined from BK Haken in Sweden, a skillful play-maker he should link up well with NKufo and Montero. Lamar Neagle moved to Seattle from the Finnish league and seems a good pickup. A fast player with a cool finish he adds real depth to the Sounders attack.
ROSTER SUBTRACTIONS: Former Jamaican international Tyrone Marshall the league champions Colorado through the re-entry draft. Chris Seitz was quickly moved on to FC Dallas.
Nathan Sturgis and Sanna Nyassi both moved to newcomers Toronto FC, the latter being moved on to Colorado to join up with the aforementioned Marshall. Peter Vagenas made it a trio of transfers to Colorado but he was later waived by the Rapids.
PROJECTED STARTERS: Expect a diamond like 4-4-2 with Alonso playing the holding role but don’t rule out wing backs in a 3-5-2 line up.
FORWARDS: Swiss target man Blaise NKufo will lead the line with Fredy Montero playing just off him. Hopefully the big striker can continue his impressive return of almost 1 in 2 next to Montero’s nigh 1 in 3.
MIDFIELD: Former Arsenal youth player Steve Zakuani will look to terrorize the league’s right back’s and with no natural right winger in the squad, Miguel Montano could deputize and play inside forward. You would hope Alonso will play the holding role alongside Swede Friberg to give the team some creative prowess.
DEFENSE AND GOAL: Veteran Kasey Keller is still between the sticks at the ripe old age of 41. Ahead of him James Riley and Leonardo Gonzalez will fill in at right and left back. Meanwhile Colombian Hurtado and former Vancouver man Jeff Parke will hold down the centre back spots for the Sounders looking to improve on last seasons poor showing.
KEY PLAYER: Fredy Montero is to Seattle what Landon Donovan is to LA. He scores and creates for Seattle and along side the not so mobile NKufo he will look to give them a spark and energy as they look to progress from last year.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Swede Erik Friberg looks an interesting acquisition. A classy playmaker, he looks to have a real eye for a pass. Sitting just ahead of Alonso if he can aim it at NKufo or play off Montero’s clever running the team could go really far. He could easily fill the right sided void and look to angle balls in.
OUTLOOK: This season is all in Seattle’s hands. The lack of activity is worrying as they look heavy on left wingers with no real natural right sided players. Their fullback options are limited and the pre-season loss to the Timbers won’t have helped morale. On paper they look dangerous in attack but unfortunately the game isn’t played on paper. Friberg could be the key to helping the team scores goals if he settles quickly, but the leaky defence still seems to have gone unfixed.
In my opinion a similar season at best for the Sounders with a first round play off knockout.
PREDICTION: 43 points 4th in Western Conference