Over the past six years, the Sounders have two years of winning records out of the gates. The current 1-3-1 record is not something to lose sleep over at all.
The Sounders struggles come with finding a dynamic as a team. A new year means new injuries, new players, and new systems and styles.
Injuries from last season and early in the preseason have already yielded the teams run towards a third straight MLS Cup appearance.
Osvaldo Alonso played his first game for the Rave Green last week and showed how talented he is. Somehow people underestimate the abilities that Alonso holds, but he is the most important player the Sounders have.
Alonso takes on multiple roles to allow players like Lodeiro and Dempsey to stay high and only worry about the attack. Alonso is strictly the most crucial player the MLS has seen because it is night and day for the Sounders with him on or off the field.
Jordan Morris’ ACL tear has forced the Sounders to lose any identity as a counter-attacking team. Without Morris, there is no speed for the Sounders attack, and they are forced to build up slowly and look for crosses into heading targets like Dempsey and Bruin.
This season, the Sounders have added on new additions like Handwalla Bwana, Magnus Wolff Eikrem, and Alex Roldan.
All of who are talented players, but finding their way into the system is robust. If Ozzie is healthy, these players will have an easier time working into the system only because he makes the players around him better.
But Bwana is a speedster who will find his success on the end of Clint Dempsey through ball. He has raw talent one-on-one in the open field, looking like glimpses of Steve Zakuani in his rookie year.
Eikrem is a buildup midfielder who lacks any speed what so ever, but can replace what the Sounders once had in Andreas Ivanschitz, someone who can be a maestro from wide angles and set up the perfect goal.
Alex Roldan is a different animal than his brother. C. Roldan is one of the best CDM’s in MLS, Alex though has shown how strong his attacking skills are at such a young age. The Seattle University product has excellent awareness and positioning in and around the box, with the ability to send dangerous shots on goal.
What system could fit this team? Anything with three strikers is out the window. The depth is not there without Jordan Morris. A 4-4-1-1 could suit this squad with Dempsey underneath Bruin, allowing free roaming center midfielders in Roldan and Alonso. Getting the outside backs into the attack is a huge bonus, but not needed, especially with slow center backs like Marshall and Torres.
Something that can make this squad elite is a big signing in the summer. General Manager Garth Lagerway has shown that he likes to scout the young, talented, and speedy South American players.
The signing that could get the Sounders back to the MLS Cup would be to open the checkbook to sign Mexican striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez. His contract ends in May at the end of the Bundesliga season.
Other huge names linked to a possible MLS move could be Fernando Torres or Andreas Iniesta. Both incredibly talented. Very, very likely the Sounders would sign the Spain Nationalists.
According to Sounders at Heart, the Sounders showed interest in a Venezuelan striker by the name of Christian Santos. Multiple MLS teams showed interest, but no one pulled the trigger on the signing.
For the time being, the Sounders have the talent right now to contend in MLS, but if the front office wants to bring home a Supporters’ Shield, U.S. Open Cup, or the MLS Cup, a summer signing needs to happen. This team doesn’t have the same depth like the past two years have had, and it will be impossible to reach a third MLS Cup.
Photo Credit: Google, Labeled for Reuse