— Sports

Sounders undergo overhaul after another run to MLS final

SEATTLE (AP) – Success has been a defining characteristic of the Seattle Sounders, a team reaching the Major League Soccer postseason each year. Another has been correctly assessing when it needs to overhaul its personnel, whether bringing in an influx of fresh talent or giving younger players in the Sounders’ system a chance.


That’s not always an easy decision, especially after Seattle finished second in the MLS regular season, won the Western Conference championship, and reached the MLS Cup final before losing to Columbus. But it’s the route Seattle picked going into this season to avoid stagnation. “We went all in to try to be a dynasty and win at least three titles. And look, ultimately, we fell short of our goal in Columbus, and that stunk,” Seattle general manager Garth Lagerwey said. “That was embarrassing and a little humiliating, and it was a real bummer of a way to end the year. But hopefully, we’re going to learn from it.”

Seattle’s most recent evolution has meant saying goodbye to players at the core of the club that reached four MLS Cup finals in five years and won two. Six players in the 18-player lineup for the MLS Cup final against Columbus are not on the 2021 roster.

MLS final

The Sounders will likely be without star midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro, who suffered an injury in preseason training that’s expected to keep him out for a few weeks. Starting defender Kelvin Leerdam and winger Joevin Jones are now with Inter Miami. Defensive midfielder Gustav Svensson is now in China playing for Guangzhou City. Defender Román Torres has returned to Panama. Miguel Ibarra is without a team.

And there’s the situation with Jordan Morris, who was loaned to Swansea City only to suffer a devastating knee injury that will likely keep him from playing for either Seattle or Swansea this year.

It’s not a rebuild for Seattle, a word Lagerwey used and immediately regretted.

“I used that word I hate. “This is not a rebuild. We’re not rebuilding anything. We are retooling around our core,” Lagerwey said. We’re going to be contenders this year.”

The most significant change for Seattle will be in its depth, an issue many MLS teams face at some point. The Sounders have brought experienced players like Will Bruin, Harry Shipp, or Svensson off the bench in the past; this season, the team will be calling on younger players in either starting or reserve roles.

Coupled with a packed calendar of fixtures – both league and international – those inexperienced players should get plenty of opportunities.

“The roster makeup is just different. That’s number one,” coach Brian Schmetzer said. “Number two, I think just by default because of a compressed season, you’ll have to rotate more guys. We again have a lot of super-talented players that might miss time because of the various international competitions, which will create more opportunities. So by default, I think young kids, yes, they’re going to get more chances.” Seattle should remain among the better teams in the Western Conference because the Sounders still have stars like Lodeiro, Raul Ruidiaz, Cristian Roldan, and Stefan Frei. The Sounders hope that players like Ethan Dobbelaere, Shandon Hope, Danny Leyva, and Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez can develop into significant contributors. “I think the way this team is set up, we’re going to adapt and learn how to win games in other ways,” defender Shane O’Neill said.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button