The Seattle Sounders are now built to run away with the West. Bold words, I know, but New England lost 8 straight last season before representing the East in MLS Cup. Seattle can win now because they have talent and depth.
As I discussed yesterday, the signings of Ivanschitz and H. Valdez created depth from the top down. More numbers at the top of the roster means more numbers in the middle of the roster. Sure, signing a Dos Santos or Drogba would’ve been a sexy quick fix, but Seattle needed more. Literally.
Why are two A- players better than one A+? The answer is two-fold, 1) Seattle didn’t need one more all-world player to depend upon, and B) midseason transfers.
Seattle doesn’t need more all-world talent. When everyone is healthy, we’re serious contenders. What we needed was more talented guys. If Oba is injured, you have Clint, sure. But if both are out, you have… Barrett? Now we have Ivanschitz and H. Valdez and Oba and Clint. We can afford more injuries/suspensions from our attacking players without having to dip into the 18.
MLS midseason transfers are fraught. The trials and tribulations of these players are well documented (see Dempsey, Clint). When a club throws a lot of resources and hope into one guy and he struggles in a new country, league, team, it can slow a team’s steam. With Seattle’s recent signings, neither of these two players are expected to be the franchise. If they struggle, it won’t derail the (already derailed?) season.
However Ivanschitz and H. Valdez are only the two newest signings this year. Seattle has added 6 players since the season started: Craven, Fisher, Thomas, Friberg, and Ivanschitz and Valdez. Again, yesterday’s graphic of the Sounders roster broken into tiers. Take note of the new players (denoted with yellow) and where they fit.
These signings give Sigi more quality to choose from on game day. Both Ivanschitz and H. Valdez are borderline top tier. The argument exists that they could be MLS 11, but I nudged them down a click because we don’t know yet how they’ll translate to MLS. Both men are DP-types, and would’ve easily carried that tag in recent seasons (the evolution of the DP from Flacco to Tiffert to Oba to Clint is astounding). Erik Friberg is also a starter on most MLS clubs. Adding three players of this quality in a month gets a team deep fast.
Lastly, we added Thomas who is firmly in the 18 and should challenge for the 11. No one runs at a defense with the ball at his feet like him. But he needs to continue to adapt to MLS. Craven and Fisher round out the bottom of the 18. I don’t want to see them starting or getting quality minutes any time soon, but both showed they belong in the league.
The Sounders have injected talent players throughout the roster, but mostly at the top. Increasing their elite-type players puts them soundly in position to dominate the next 11 games and finish the season strong. The only other team that’s also gotten this good this fast is L.A. Galaxy. Looking forward to Sunday.