Sounders Insider

Henderson: Keller tough to replace, but Johansson an upgrade; striker position should be OK


Background on Johansson) The first time I saw him play live was at the end of '09. We were looking at other players off of that club. And so we've kind of followed him along. And know that his contract and that he was going to become free, we just followed him. To have a guy who was the captain of his team become available, and he's at a good age coming into the prime of his career, he's a player that we followed and when we take trips to Sweden that was one of the teams that we would watch, whether it was focusing on that team or whether they were player a team where we were looking at players.

Johansson scouting report) He's a player who's tactically very smart. He's versatile. He's a leader in the back. He has a good engine. Crosses well. His timing of overlaps, his timing of deep crosses in the box is good. He's a solid player who tackles well and competes well every time he plays.

Remaining off-season priorities) We're working on things. As you guys know, this isthe busiest time for myself and Adrian and Kurt. I think it's a good timefor the coaches to take a break, but it gets very busy as players becomeavailable. We want to make sure that we continue to attack like we did inthe past year with the goals we scored. Obviously, getting O'Brian Whiteand Zakuani healthy again to add to that, that will almost feel like twonew players if we can get them back this season. But there's a few thingsthat we're trying to tie up before we completely focus on the collegedraft. In a few days we all leave for the combine and then the big focus ismaking sure we try and get some draft picks who can compete to make ourteam.

Montero and Fernandez futures) That's something that we always have on ourmind. I think there are one or two other guys who have had interest fromour club. So you know those are guys who get the most interest. We alwayshave to have players that we're looking at, that if the club decides tomove a player that we have a plan in place to replace them. Because wealways want to make sure that there's a transition that's really smooth anddoesn't affect the style of play that we have and the production of ourattack. So it's something that we always keep in mind, and that's adecision for the club and ownership in which direction that we want tomore. But we want to make sure that the players who are within our club andin their contract keep performing better every single year and Fredy's onethat we expect to have a very good year for us, as well as Fernandez.

Possible other signings at right back) We look at Adam as a guy who's a solid starter, who'sgoing to be the main guy. I think now looking at depth at that position isthe next step. But the top players we were looking at at that position, Ithink Johansson is that guy right now. Yeah, I think depth at thatposition, but we're now also moving on to other positions.

Whether the club has improved with its two big off-season signings, or merely filling holes) Kasey Keller in goal is one of the best this countryhas ever had. So I think we are happy with (Michael) Gspurning, and Ithink he's going to be a solid, experienced, composed player for us in thenets. So we're happy with that. But as I said, Kasey Keller was in thenets, and we all know what Kasey can do. But we're very excited to haveMichael come and play in the nets for us. I think with our right back,losing James Riley, a seasoned veteran in our league, it's tough to loseJames, but I think Adam with his international experience, I think he canpush that position even further with the amount of touches that our outsidebacks get. I feel very confident in having Adam come and help start ourattack and defend and shut players down. He's a good all-round player, so Ithink that's an improvement there. Other positions: we are always lookingto improve. How can we improve our attack? So those are things that we'relooking at too, and can players move around to different positions so wecan find room for Zakuani on the flank, and can Fernandez be versatile andplay inside? There are always things that our staff is talking about andthinking abount.

On the expected number of players reporting to camps in Arizona next month and Florida in February) Fewer (than last season) maybe by two or three I wouldsay. But we're still going to come in with a pretty good group of players.There's player who still are going to be competing for spots. And if wefind there's a position that we think another player who's new to the groupcould come in and replace one of these players, then we're going toconsider that. Maybe smaller, but not by very much.

Options at striker) That's always a position you look at when you'rescouting, so we always keep a depth chart, a list of players that wefollow. But you look at the competition for spots: Fredy Montero's up top,Ochoa, Mike Fucito, Rosales has shown he can play there; hopefully SteveZakuani comes back, he can play on the wing or up top. So we do have somevery good options up there, and the production was excellent last year withthe absence of Zakuani and O'Brian White. So we hope O'Brian comes along,but the striker position is something we always continue to look at, and inscouting it has a lot to do with the timing of players: players in and outof contracts, being able to talk to the right players at the right time -so that's something that we will continue to do. But we feel we have a verystrong core of strikers to work with and continue on the scoring we didlast year.

Rumors of interest in teen midfielder/forward Cordell Cato) Cordell is a player that we had in here and looked at him inthe summer. He's a player that we've had discussions with. Nothing isfinalized with him, but he is a player that we're talking with and lookingto see if there's a possibility to get him into our group.

Health updates on White/Zakuani) I probably am not the right one to answer justbecause it's more of a medical question for the training staff and thecoaching staff. I don't want to give you an answer that's just on my ownhope. I know they've both been working very hard. We see them in training,and they follow the programs pretty closely and from what I can see itlooks very encouraging.