The Seattle Sounders, who kick off their fifth Major League Soccer season in March, could look very different from the version that reports for training camp this morning.
The Sounders’ offseason was highlighted by a pair of major subtractions from the roster: career goals-leader Fredy Montero, who is on loan to Millonairos of Colombia, and starting center back Jeff Parke, who was traded to Philadelphia.
With the replacement plans not yet fully enacted, the club remains a work in progress as players report today to Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.
“I think we’re working on a few things that can really help our team,” sporting director Chris Henderson said. “We’ll see how things develop. We all know how things work in soccer, and things are changing every day. I feel like it has been a busy offseason for the whole staff. We’re all excited to get back at it, but I feel like it’s been very productive for us, and come roster-compliance day, we’re going to look pretty good.”
The Sounders may have filled some of their back-line needs Thursday in the MLS SuperDraft with Eriq Zavaleta, the 10th overall pick who may be used at center back, and Dylan Remick, the 35th pick who seems destined for left back. The club also feels it gained the equivalent of a high bonus pick with the signing of homegrown defender DeAndre Yedlin from the Sounders’ academy program, the University of Akron and Seattle’s O’Dea High School.
Seattle also has five picks in the league’s Supplemental Draft, which will be held Tuesday.
The Sounders believe they also can benefit from added contributions from players already on their roster: midfielder Steve Zakuani, who is expected to report in full health, and 2012 midseason acquisitions such as midfielder Mario Martinez and goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, who is expected to provide a veteran presence behind incumbent starter Michael Gspurning.
“The team is very close,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “The ability to have Steve Zakuani there from Day One this season, to have Mario Martinez in the group from Day One as we begin our first seasonal games, I think it helps us make a stronger group in the midfield. And we’re going to continue to work, continue to make us stronger in (other) parts of the field. ... We were able to keep the nucleus of the team together, and I think the spirit and the desire to bring home the MLS Cup is stronger than it’s ever been.”
General manager Adrian Hanauer also believes that goal is in reach.
He admits he is working with tight salary cap restrictions, yet he said the club remains hopeful of filling the designated player spot vacated by Montero and of eventually becoming an upgrade over last year’s team, which went 15-8-11 in the regular season, and advanced to the Western Conference final, the U.S. Open Cup final and the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal round, which resumes in March.
“We wouldn’t have done – and we wouldn’t be in the process of doing – some of the things we’re doing if we didn’t think that,” Hanauer said. “... It’s going to take a lot of hard work and ingenuity and good timing, and frankly a little luck, which everybody needs to get there. That’s what the ultimate goal is.”Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt