Since the conclusion of the 2011 season, the Sounders FC has undergone a massive overhaul. You wouldn’t know it by looking at the stars of the team, but there is a cornucopia of new faces from places all over the world making up the 2012 Seattle roster.
Back are Fredy Montero, Mauro Rosales, Osvaldo Alonso, Alvaro Fernandez, Brad Evans, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Jeff Parke and Leo Gonzalez – stalwarts in the 2011 side that finished second in the race for the Supporters’ Shield. Steve Zakuani is nearing a return too.
However, Mike Fucito, Lamar Neagle and Tyson Wahl have all been traded to the Montreal Impact. Miguel Montano signed there as well. Erik Friberg returned to his native Sweden. Pat Noonan went to the LA Galaxy in the re-entry draft. Nate Jaqua went to the New England Revolution too, though he hasn’t signed with the club and is reportedly considering retirement. James Riley was selected by Montreal in the expansion draft, then traded to Chivas USA. Kasey Keller retired at the end of the season, then Taylor Graham and Terry Boss followed suit.
Here is a sneak peek at the 2012 Sounders FC.
With Keller’s retirement, the vast majority of the goalkeeping minutes are up for the taking in 2012. The Sounders brought in Austrian standout Michael Gspurning to take up most of those minutes. The 6’5” keeper spent the last five years with Skoda Xanthi in Greece and has manned the box for the Sounders through preseason. The backup role will be split by 28-year-old MLS vet Andrew Weber and 22-year-old PDL champion Bryan Meredith. Josh Ford could also figure into the mix when he recovers from a knee injury that currently has him on the shelf.
Parke and Hurtado return to control the middle of the backline, marking the first time that both players will start a season healthy together. They will be backed by first-round SuperDraft pick Andrew Duran and veteran Patrick Ianni. On the outsides, Swedish National Teamer Adam Johansson came to Seattle from IFK Goteborg to play right back and Gonzalez and former DC United defender Marc Burch will compete for time at left back. Zach Scott will also provide cover at the right and center back spots while Michael Tetteh tries to work his way into the rotation at left back and left mid.
This is where the Sounders went largely unchanged. With 2011 Newcomer of the Year Rosales (5 G, 13 A) and Fernandez (9 G) returning on the outsides and Alonso (3 G, 3 A) and Evans (5 G, 5 A) in the middle, the entire starting core returns. Add to that Zakuani, who is nearing the ability to return to the field after a horrific injury ended his 2011 season just eight matches into the season, and the additions of Christian Sivebæk from Denmark and Cordell Cato from Trinidad and the bench is plenty deep in the wide channels. Mike Seamon and Servando Carrasco give head coach Sigi Schmid more options in the middle of the pitch too.
Montero has been a constant with the Sounders for the last three years, averaging about 11 goals and 9 assists per season. He looks even more lethal in front of the net and will be joined by US National Team forward Eddie Johnson, who makes his return to MLS after four years in Europe to provide the perfect speedy foil to Montero on the attacking end. Sammy Ochoa and David Estrada have shown a scoring knack in the preseason and Roger Levesque gives Schmid a veteran presence at forward – or anywhere else Schmid opts to use the jack-of-all-trades. Possible Canadian Olympian Babayele Sodade, a second-round SuperDraft pick also could see time up top, providing size and touch that nobody else on the club possesses.