7 important questions the Sounders must answer during the pre-season

like Seattle Sounders As they put together to open the fifteenth season of the MLS on Saturday, they discover themselves in an unfamiliar state of affairs. The Sounders are rising from their first MLS season and not using a playoff look, and might want to no less than take care of a brand new stage of skepticism from a fanbase that knew nothing however profitable.

The Sounders, in the meantime, are opening camp with a roster very similar to the one which ended final yr, with adjustments primarily to the perimeters. Listed below are a number of the greatest questions they will must reply this season:

Requested an identical query on the finish of 2022, Sounders coach Brian Schmitzer indicated that he might have trusted his gamers an excessive amount of and that a few of them might have benefited from that. He did not actually get into it in additional particular phrases, however one factor I heard was that there was a basic feeling of not sufficient inside competitors for beginning spots and a obscure lack of urgency, particularly after the CONCACAF win. Champions League. It is going to be fascinating to see if any concrete adjustments have been made because of this basic sentiment.

One factor we all know for positive is that the Sounders must sail in no less than 4 completely different competitions this yr – the Membership World Cup, US Open Championship Cup and League Cup along with the common season – suggesting there must be loads of rotation regardless. – Jeremiah

Maybe the Sounders’ greatest problem final season was attempting to switch Joao Paulo after he was injured within the CCL ultimate and misplaced this season. By all indications, it seems to be very shut to creating a full comeback. With João Paulo, the Sounders seemed in each means as a staff that would rightfully declare to be the most effective within the area. With out it, properly, the proof is within the discipline.

If João Paulo is near 100% this yr, there isn’t any motive to assume they can not compete in each competitors they enter. But when he wants a full season to come back again, there might be some huge challenges. – Jeremiah

A lot of different questions are more likely to be affected by how this query is answered. Assuming that Joao Paulo is sort of match, it’s a must to assume he will likely be an everyday starter. His 2021 marketing campaign was among the finest two-way performances in MLS historical past. Even when he dropped a few of it, it might be nearly not possible to see for a non-newbie. However who enhances it greatest is a really open query.

Final yr, Albert Rusnak appeared like a really good accomplice. However that was a really restricted pattern dimension and it is solely attainable that Rusnák may have been extra helpful on offense. Cristian Roldan is an alternative choice and was João Paulo’s beginning accomplice final season earlier than he and Rusnák swapped. It is also attainable that one of many guys – Dani Leyva, Josh Atensio or Obed Vargas – exhibits sufficient enchancment to drive their means into the dialog. – Jeremiah

2022 included the membership’s highest peak, and arguably additionally its lowest. Within the league, the staff struggled to attain targets. Solely 5 Western Convention groups have scored fewer targets than Seattle’s 47, with solely FC Dallas Make the playoffs for these groups. Their defensive document was barely higher, comparatively talking, as solely 4 Western groups allowed fewer than their 46 targets scored and all 4 made it into the playoffs. The principle supply of the staff’s offensive struggles was the place of the ahead, with Raul Ruidiaz, Freddy Montero and Will Bruin contributing to an MLS complete of 16 targets and 4 assists. In 2021, Ruidíaz alone scored 17 targets and had one help.

They made a change within the striker place, and changed Bruin with Héber New York Metropolis. Heber Ruidias can spell and restrict the break when the star striker is not on the sector, however Brian Schmitzer can even play them collectively in a two-forward formation, one thing the staff has solely carried out to start out the sport with a complete of three in 2022. With Nouhou more likely to proceed and no An apparent help or substitute at left-back, the staff would seemingly use a three-back formation to get the most effective out of Nouhou and likewise simplify the duty for the left-back sort out. There isn’t any clear most suitable choice, however that is definitely a query we’ll seemingly see answered within the preseason as Schmetzer and his workers work to take advantage of the expertise on the staff at quick discover. – Tim

One of many issues the Sounders confronted final yr was that whereas there have been clear first-choice gamers at fullback (and fullback), the choices bought muddy behind Nouhou and Alex Roldán. These selections have been, nearly completely, Kelyn Rowe’s. Jimmy Midranda dropped in at left wingback, Ethan Duplery began for FC Cincinnati at proper wingback, and Cristian Roldan dropped again to switch his brother a couple of times. For 2023, Midranda has moved up entrance and Rowe cannot be anticipated to be the beginning substitute each at fullback/fullback and throughout the midfield with out some consequence.

With 27 gamers at present signed, there is not a lot room so as to add extra our bodies with out corresponding strikes, so it is smart to search for backups among the many gamers already right here. One fascinating choice is Reed Baker-Whiting. He has primarily performed throughout midfield within the skilled ranks inside the Sounders group, however with the US Nationwide Youth Groups extra not too long ago he has been deployed without any consideration again. If he can adapt to the state of affairs on an expert stage, he’ll clear his path to MLS minutes. Equally, Sota Kitahara joined a crowded midfield squad, however in his earlier days with Tacoma Defiance and on mortgage to FC Pinzgau Saalfelden in Austria, he was incessantly used at RB. If both of them, or Dobbelaere, can develop into A. Roldán’s understudy, it may go an extended solution to cementing the roster. – Tim

In some circumstances the younger males are the brand new males. Signed as HGPs are Jacob Castro (San Diego St., College of Washington, Sounders Academy) and Kitahara (Tacoma Defiance, Sounders Academy). Presently the one acquisition from outdoors the group is Héber.

In some ways, the membership is taking a stance on its administration as soon as once more. That is carried out incessantly after the championship, which the Sounders gained in Could, however in addition they didn’t make the MLS playoffs. Turning it on once more could also be uncommon in these circumstances. We are going to discover out in just a few many years when multiple MLS staff will win the CONCACAF Champions League.

The membership has additionally acknowledged that it needs to get youthful. This will solely be carried out by shopping for time for younger folks. If one needed to put collectively a two-deep XI, the one locations you would contemplate the Sounders younger have been Léo Chú and perhaps, for those who have been creamy, Jackson Ragin. They bought a barely smaller commerce for Héber and let Will Bruin go.

To get youthful on the sector, in a yr with the minimal acceptable variety of matches of 42 (sure, meaning advancing within the League Cup and profitable a play-off) is for younger expertise to purchase time. Who will observe within the footsteps of Obed Vargas (22), Josh Atensio (21) and Dani Leyva (19)? They might be. Perhaps not. However there should be two or three folks to ensure that the typical lifetime of minutes performed to drop. – Dave

Bear in mind these few seasons when the Sounders have been robust throughout breaks with out penalties? It was the other of what occurred in 2022. With out João Paulo’s serve, free-kicks and corner-kicks could be outdated.

The issues went past simply concentrating on a location near the corners. There was no acceptable conversion price. If Seattle have been to common the league in set-piece success, they’d most likely make the playoffs, and issues have been shut.

issues that ought to assist;

  1. Joao Paulo Service.
  2. Heber’s head.
  3. Atencio and/or Ragen.
  4. Maybe some new methods that the trainers don’t particularly disclose, however they’ll discuss their implementation.

There are actually organizations which have assistant coaches devoted to the strike. MLS most likely is not sufficiently big for that. However Seattle may take just a little longer to get the type of service their high expertise can put to good use. – Dave

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