In advance of the 2014 season, Real Nation is publishing a preview of each team in the league. Be sure to check back for each.
The Seattle Sounders had a disappointing season in 2013. While the front office acquisition of Clint Dempsey was a coup for the league and the club, things didn’t mesh well on the field.
The Sounders season was a roller coaster from start to finish. The club started very poorly, but coming into the last few weeks of the season looked as if it might win the Supporters’ Shield. Instead, the squad collapsed amid rumors of infighting.
“[The club had] the best run in Sounders history in wins, and then went on the worst run in losses,” former goalkeeper and broadcaster Kasey Keller told me at MLS Cup. “I don’t think they anticipated what bringing Clint back [at] that kind of money… does subconsciously to guys in the locker room.”
So now Sounders management is set to pick up the pieces, and it has a lot of good things to work with.
The biggest problem with the 2013 Sounders has gotten very little play in the media. The squad’s salary budget was completely out of whack. At year’s end, the side had five incredible attacking players with a poor back line. While expensive players had to sit on the bench for the squad to get into its best offensive rhythm, they sucked up funds that could have been used to build a stable defense.
The Sounders front office has already made moves to correct that problem.
- Osvaldo Alonso signed to DP contract
- Brad Evans signed to long term contract
- Marcus Hahnemann re-signed
- Chad Marshall acquired from Columbus via trade
- Jalil Anibaba acquired from Chicago via trade
- Stefan Frei acquired from Toronto via trade
- Kenny Cooper acquired from Dallas via trade
- Tristan Bowen acquired from Chivas via trade
- Eddie Johnson to DC United via Trade
- Mauro Rosales to Chivas USA via Trade
- Michael Gspurning out of league (option declined)
- Steve Zakuani to Portland via Re-Entry Draft
- Jhon Kennedy Hurtado to Chicago via Trade
As you can see, a lot of work has been done to correct the salary cap imbalance and put a competent defense in place. It will take some time (and a few more moves) for this group to get set and mesh. Still, history and its salary budget are on the Sounders’ side.
The Sounders will make the playoffs in 2014 with an improved defense and a solid offense built around Dempsey. The side will be a powerhouse and, at least once this season, will top the MLSsoccer.com Power Rankings. Dempsey will play well, get named an All-Star and contend for a Best XI spot.
The Sounders will end 2014 feeling better about the season than they did about the 2013 campaign, but the side won’t win MLS Cup.
Just for Laughs
Sigi “it’s never my fault” Schmid will get fined for blaming a referee after a big loss at some point during the season.