Sounders FC began reinventing itself for 2014 with a series of major moves last week. Without doubt, there are more major moves ahead. However, here is the roster as it is currently listed by the club. And below are some first impressions on how the club has begun to reshape itself:
Sounders get rights to Kenny Cooper for Adam Moffat: And they got Moffat by trading Servando Carrasco. Which means they turned Servando Carrasco into Kenny Cooper, which is the kind of magic that would make David Copperfield gasp. Unless. Unless they simply made Carrasco and Moffat disappear without anything in their place. The rights to Kenny Cooper aren't necessarily the same as Kenny Cooper. And then, which Kenny Cooper? Through seven seasons, he ranks seventh among active MLS players with 72 goals, and sixth with 32 goals over the past three seasons. But those big numbers have added up in fits and starts: 18 goals in 2008, a total of 15 from 2009-2001, 18 more in 2012, six last season. At 29, Cooper should still be near his prime. And at his prime, he is one of the few MLS scorers who could fill the gap left by the departure of Eddie Johnson ... for example ... if it comes to that.
(I remember the first words Moffat spoke to Seattle media: "I'm freezing, man." So, cheers, Adam. Enjoy those Texas summers.)Sounders lose Zakuani and Burch in re-entry draft: For now these register as subtractions without addition. No doubt their would-be salaries will soon be directed elsewhere, but for now these resonate as pure losses. I thought Burch proved a useful, versatile and generally underappreciated player last season. And Zakuani, well, at his pre-injury best he was a genuine star -- not just productive, but exciting. Not just exciting, but a class guy. He remained a class guy after that awful day in Colorado. Whether he can again become a productive player, let alone a genuine star, is undetermined. But it would have been nice if whatever future plays out, would have played out in Seattle. We've all heard the cliché that professional sports is a cold business. This is the kind of move that proves it.
Sounders acquire central defender Chad Marshall: When the last second ticked off the clock at Portland, the one certainty of the Sounders' off-season was that there would be changes along the back line. This is a good start. Like Cooper, Marshall has been inconsistent. But like Cooper, at his best Marshall would register as an upgrade in the center of the Sounders' back line. I suspect he wouldn't be the only new face back there once the club reports to camp next month.
Sounders trade Mauro Rosales for Tristan Bowen: Like Zakuani, Rosales was a class guy: good with the media, liked by his teammates, a standup guy win or lose, and a fitting captain. However, he leaves a Sounders team that is very different from the one he joined in 2011 when he became MLS newcomer of the year and was for a time an MVP candidate. Bowen certainly comes in less credentialed. But at 22, he is a decade younger than Rosales, and if he arrives shorter on production, he also arrives longer on potential.
Sounders trade for goalkeeper Stefan Frei and re-sign Josh Ford while declining option on Michael Gspurning: Among the great guys being shaken from the Sounders roster, Gspurning may have been the best. He stepped right in and owned the goalkeeper position -- no small accomplishment considering its previous owner was Kasey Keller. In his first season, some case could actually be made that Gspurning had the best season off any Sounders goalkeeper -- again, no small accomplishment considering Keller's accomplishments. And things were sailing along fine last season until some invisible iceberg was struck, and after that the ship went down with breathtaking speed. Whether Frei will be able to step in as effortlessly remains to be seen. Whether that's even the Sounders' plan doesn't yet seem certain. A high goals-against average just comes with the territory when playing for Toronto FC. Seattle seems better for Frei, but we'll see if Frei proves better for Seattle. The addition of Marshall should mitigate what is lost from no longer having Gspurning out their to gobble up crosses. Ford still feels like a promising player, and it's nice that he gets at least another season to develop in Seattle.