It was raining hard and the Sounders were about to pull off the comeback. November 19th, 2012. Second leg of the Western Conference Finals. With goals from Eddie and Zach Scott, we are just one away from equalizing. We had finally gotten past the first round. We had finally won our first playoff series, that epic tilt against RSL.
Remember the starting 11? Gspurning, Johansson, Parke, Hurtado, Scott, Tiffert, Ozzie, Brad, Zakuani, Fredy and Eddie. This was the climax of Sigi and Adrian’s roster building. These were the Sounders destined to bring home the Cup. But they weren’t. All it took was a cunning Robbie Keane and a questionable handball on Johansson.
After THE handball, the front office started dismantling the roster. Now starting 2014 we are a shadow of that team. Last year’s team wasn’t “on the bubble” or “a Shalrie Joseph (or even a Clint Dempsey) away from the Cup.” 2013’s chemistry experiment blew up in all of our faces.
So yeah, we needed to take a step back and “reload” or “rebuild.” But rebuilding in a completely different way than in other professional American sports leagues. Roster building and consistency is completely different in MLS (and we are all still getting used to this– and to make it trickier, MLS loves moving the goalposts). In the NFL, roster building typically revolves around a five-year plan and maximizing that window (in a future post I’d like to look at roster consistency/turnover around the league and see how that contributes to W-L).
So few Sounders were Sounders just two years ago. Sounder@Heart noted only 8 (9 if you count Hahnemann) current Sounders were on the roster in 2012. Who’s left on the squad and suited up against SKC on Saturday? Ozzie, Brad (the RB platoon from 2012 of Scott/Leo is still here, but Remick could change that if he pulls a Yedlin and displaces an injured vet, but that’s another post). That’s around 80% turnover from arguably the best team the Sounders (according to results in the postseason) ever fielded. That team had DPs in Fredy, Tiffert and Mauro, plus talent on the cheap in Ozzie and Eddie and quality vets like Evans, Parke and Leo. That was a talented, talented team.
The Sounders are coming out of their first 5-year window. Years 1-4 were Fredy driven and culminated a single game short of the Cup. Last season, year 5, was a shoot the moon season with a descending, but stacked roster. Sigi and Adrian were trying to retool on the fly. Now? We are officially in a new era. There’s been a revolution at Starfire and we’re looking at the All-New, All-Different Sounders (and it’s still a little funny to see Kenny Cooper in Rave Green).