The Seattle Sounders spent much of the offseason living up to their stated goal of becoming a younger and more athletic team.
Out went players such as 34-year old Troy Perkins, 33-year-old Gonzalo Pineda and 30-year-old Chad Barrett. In came younger guys such as 21-year-old Jordan Morris, 24-year-old Joevin Jones and four new draftees.
And then Friday, when players reported for preseason physicals, the club announced the re-signing of original Sounder Zach Scott, a 35-year-old defender.
“He means a great deal to the Sounders organization, and we’re happy to have him back in camp,” general manager Garth Lagerwey said through a news release.
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Scott became a Sounder in 2002, when the club played in the United Soccer League. In 2009, he became part of the MLS expansion team. Since then, he has made 104 league appearances for Sounders FC: seventh in club history. Last season he played an MLS career-high 1,480 minutes. It is a resume that has earned him the nickname, “Mr. Sounder.”
“It’s exciting to bring back a player who competes as hard as Zach does day in and day out,” coach Sigi Schmid said in the release. “His toughness, resilience and experience have always made him a valuable member of this team.”
In December, Scott was among nine Seattle veterans whose contracts were not renewed. Now he returns in a move unlike most made by the club this offseason.
The average age of departed players Marco Pappa, Barrett, Andy Rose, Perkins. Michael Azira and Pineda is 30. The average age of three newcomers projected for regular action — Morris, Jones and Michael Farfan — is 24.
That was in keeping with the Seattle front office’s stated goal of becoming younger and more athletic for the coming season — at least around the veteran core of Osvaldo Alonso, Clint Dempsey, Brad Evans, Andreas Ivanschitz, Chad Marshall, Obafemi Martins, Tyrone Mears and Nelson Valdez, each past their 30th birthday.
“We’re happy with some of the moves that we were able to make,” Schmid said Thursday when Morris was introduced. “Obviously, signing Jordan was a big one. I think the trade for Joevin Jones was also a significant move. The addition of Michael Farfan was important for us: a little more experience at midfield.”
The club also traded away Lamar Neagle and released Leo Gonzalez. Additions included the promotions of former S2 players Tyler Miller and Andy Craven, the signing of homegrown midfielder Jordan Schweitzer, and the drafting of defenders Tony Alfaro and Michael Nelson and midfielders Zach Mathers and Emir Alihodzic.
Schmid added that some players who were on the roster last season — including some who played regularly — could increase their production in the season ahead.
“What a lot of people have forgotten is we basically brought in four guys last year at the middle of the season,” he said. “… You have to look at a few of those guys as being really this year’s additions. They’re going to be much better in year two. Hopefully Roman Torres will get back as well, and then as a result of that I think we’ll be a fairly strong team. Some of the depth behind that is going to be younger. But when we say younger, it’s guys like Oniel Fisher, it’s guys like Damion Lowe, who have been with us and we feel have a good potential.”
Torres is a centerback from Panama who on Friday was named to the All-CONCACAF Best XI of 2015. He is rehabilitating an injured knee and could return by midseason.