Seattle Sounders Season Preview Part 2: Fullbacks
Garth Lagerwey is actively shaping the Sounders roster. And here I am desperately trying to finish my roster breakdowns before their rendered obsolete.
I’ve only explored keepers and centerbacks and already my series is old news, as Ockford joins Lowe on loan and Garth just signed the recently drafted Tony Alfaro. Alfaro was barely on my radar last week when I posted my centerbacks preview and now may be the in the 18 as the #3 centerback.
Today we discuss the hot button position from Sunday’s loss: fullback.
TLDR: Red card aside, Fullback might be challenging Forward as the deepest position group on the roster.
The Sounders are stacked at fullback. Joevin Jones is the real deal. He looked goal-dangerous against America and was a rock Sunday against SKC. On first glance, he reminds me of DeAndre Yedlin, fast enough to get back in position after bombing up the flank. On closer inspection though, he plays with more discipline (except for those 90 seconds before halftime in the first leg of the CCL series) than Yedlin ever did in Rave Green. SKC rarely tested his side on the field on Sunday.
Jones joins consummate pro Tyrone Mears to give Seattle their best pair of starting fullbacks in a while (sorry Leo, you were just too old when paired with Yedlinny). Hopefully this pair starts a league game together sometime soon. Mears, after suffering through injury problems for the past few years in the EPL, was a horse last year. He played 33 out of 34 games and went the full 90 in 32 of them! Unfortunately the injury bug is back, as Mears quad train has him questionable for RSL.
Starting for Mears last week was the star-crossed Oniel Fisher…oh boy. Fisher was, arguably, the man of the match until his red card. His tackle was a textbook red card according to the new officiating focus this season, fair enough. Hopefully the MLS refs clal that tight all season. I am all for a cleaner game. Fisher was a real bright spot for the team last season after he wrested the starting gig from Dylan Remick. But with Sunday as evidence, he still needs to smooth out the rough spots in his game.
Fisher can’t go Saturday, and if Mears quad keeps him out, Dylan Remick will presumably start. Like Fisher, Remick was an effective starter at times last year. When you scrape the bottom of the barrel and find a third year pro with 26 starts and potential, you thank the President of Soccer. And fi you thought this position couldn’t get deeper, oh yeah, we also have USMNT RB Brad Evans on the roster. You know, in the odd case we needed, you know, more depth at this position.
Seattle may have the best fullbacks in all of MLS. All of these players, especially Jones, fits the modern fullback archetype: adept at both defense and the attack. This versatility will be key in supporting the new 4-3-3 formation Seattle’s trying this year. Already we’ve seen opponents test the unbalanced lineup as SKC were in Fisher’s grill all day and Club America attacked Jones. This position will be tested often in 2016, espcially Saturday at RSL.