Going into this season, most analysts and supporters knew it was going to take time to attain team cohesion. This was the first time in their six seasons that the Sounders roster had to be overhauled. Gone were club originals Steve Zakuani and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, along with fan favorite Mauro Rosales. The Sounders high-priced Designated Player Clint Dempsey spent much of the off-season on loan with struggling Fulham FC. Many predicted this team would be slow starters, lacking the familiarity that many of their Western Conference opponents already have. However, what this team lacked in team cohesion, they have made up with experience and maturity.
The current squad has seven starters, who throughout their careers have a range of 17 to 103 caps for their respective national teams. All of them playing in a combination of Confederation Championships, World Cup qualifiers, and World Cups. It is this experience that has allowed the Sounders to find ways to win while Clint Dempsey was enduring a two match suspension. This experience and maturity allowed the Sounders to beat Sporting Kansas City in stoppage time. It also inspired them to come back on the road for a draw at Portland, along with wins at both Dallas and Chivas USA.
One of the Sounders keys has been the play of an experienced players like Obafemi Martins. Martins has been willing to take a lesser role and serve as a facilitator. World Cup veteran Gonzalo Pineda has brought calm and set piece ability to the midfield. Pineda’s presence has been key to a midfield that has been lacking club captain, Brad Evans.
There are many more questions that need to be answered before we know where this team will be headed this season. Will DeAndre Yedlin continue his education to become a first-choice right back? Can this team get a lead and maintain it? Are they capable of squeaking out one-nil wins? These are questions that Sigi Schmid must find answers to, or else the season may again end in disappointment. If these first seven games are any indication, it’s going to be an exciting season for the Sounders faithful.