Seattle Sounders Going Deep: Part 1

The MLS transfer window closed yesterday and the Seattle Sounders got (or will soon get) their man. Or men. With the signings of Andreas Ivanschitz and Nelson Haedo Valdez, the Sounders opted to add quality and quantity.

The Sounders had a problem with their top-heavy roster. The Sounders had 6 MLS elite players: Dempsey, Martins, Marshall, Alonso, Mears and Evans. Seattle was running away with the league with everyone healthy and giving quality minutes (which should happen when over 50% of the starting 11 is top talent). And yet, the composition of the team was dependent on quality minutes from those players. There was little depth.

The Sounders were deep as a desert puddle, as one insightful tweetster noted.

Granted, no team is going to dominate, let alone perform, saddled with the injuries, suspensions and call-ups the Sounders faced. But Seattle plain stunk. We were cellar dwellers without our studs, as Sigi was forced to start guys who were firmly entrenched as merely 18ers. Even worse, we constantly started developmental guys as well (that Philly game, sheesh). When you are starting your “depth,” you aren’t very deep. Thus the wicked string of defeats.

Below is the Sounders roster broken into tiers.

yellow denotes a new player

yellow denotes a new player

The top tier is MLS 11 quality, next is MLS 18, then The 11, The 18, Late Minutes and Training Pitch. The top two tiers are fairly simple: these players deserve to be considered for MLS Best 11 and 18. The third tier, The 11, means these players deserve to be starters for most MLS clubs. Ditto for The 18. Late Minutes contains players who occasionally see the 18, as they have high ceilings and high floors. They deserve minutes in garbage time to taste first-team action and develop. Training Pitch is reserved for players you only want to see at Starfire.

As much as the last two months stunk, we’re lucky the front office identified this problem before November. Eschewing the temptation of a flashy name and quick fix, Lagerwey opted to build quality depth. Instead of breaking the bank on another singular talent, we brought in two A- players: Ivanschitz and H. Valdez. Neither man is merely a bench player, as “building depth” may suggest, but rather they allow players like Rose and Barrett and Roldan to remain merely in the 18 (where they currently belong). In the last 48 hours, Seattle has become a much, much deeper team then we were last year when we nearly won the Triple.

 

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