The Seattle Sounders: Depth the Wrong Way

A quick follow-up to yesterday’s post about the eventual disintegration of the Seattle Sounders we’ve come to know and love.

I look back at the MLS Western Conference Finals and feel robbed. If I were a weaker man, I’d rant that if Ozzie Alonso played the full series, the Sounders would’ve won running away. This was our season, our series and our DP midfielder pulls a bum hammy against Dallas. Which was especially maddening because Ozzie is the energizer bunny, rarely injured and always ready. Except when he wasn’t. Seattle had a stacked roster, but was shockingly thin at key positions.

We crowed all year about our depth. But we had depth the wrong way, as I wrote about earlier in the season. Clint Dempsey and Oba Martins are superlative strikers but if one of them they can’t go, Sigi has a cornucopia of attacking options. He can trot out Lamar Neagle, Kenny Cooper, or Chad Barrett. At defensive midfield, however, pickings were slim.

So many forwards, no midfielders. Or rather, no battle-tested, 100%-trusted midfielders. I wish Adrian had signed the a midfield equivalent of Barrett or Cooper to slot in for Ozzie. But he didn’t. That was our weakness and Los Brasilenos made us pay. At midfield we settled with Michael Azira and Andy Rose. In everyone’s worst case scenario, both saw significant minutes in the biggest game of the season. The dropoff from Ozzie was just too much. There is room for improvement.

The 2015 Sounders can be better than this year’s variety at two key positions: centerback and midfield. Seattle is hungry for help on the backline. I love Chad Marshall but L.A. toasted us when he was out. Hell, we were desperate enough for depth at the position that we signed an out-of-shape international centerback sight-unseen.

As I said earlier, the Sounders had skimpy midfield depth. The team got lucky with trialist Gonzalo Pineda. Who would’ve logged all those minutes besides Ozzie if not for him? Rose? We also need wingers, true touchline-hugging attacking midfielders. Marco Pappa always cheated in, Neagle’s an out-of-position forward and B-Rad’s a Swiss Army Knife. Again we got lucky because DeAndre Yedlin’s forays from the backline gave us the attacking width a winger normally provides. Unfortunately Yedlin now wears a crest with a chicken standing on a basketball, not the Space Needle. Hopefully Aaron Kovar can develop, but how much can the senior team expect of him next year? How much can we expect from any of our youngsters?

Looking ahead, the Sounders youth movement has started. We’re stacked at forward, as we can shed Cooper and Barrett and still have Parsemain, Okoli and Neagle behind Oba and Deuce. We can lose Pappa for Kovar, and hopefully further develop Rose. However looking at the roster to project the 2015 lineup is a fool’s errand. Who would’ve ever expected we’d have Pineda and Parsemain and Cooper at this time last year?

At least it’s only six weeks until training camp.

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