It is no secret that the Sounders have gone through some injury woes to start the 2013 season.
Between the injuries and international absences, head coach Sigi Schmid has already played 23 players in five MLS matches, starting 20 different players. With many of those held out being pivotal figures for the Sounders – like Brad Evans, Eddie Johnson, Obafemi Martins, Mario Martinez and Patrick Ianni – Schmid has turned to some young players to play big roles in the early part of the season.
Playing in his second season in Major League Soccer, Alex Caskey has made 13 starts for the deep midfield of Sounders FC.
However, the 24-year-old from Dunwoody, Georgia, has made his presence felt with starts in some sizable matches outside of MLS play, showing the club’s immense confidence in him to perform on the biggest of stages.
His résumé includes starts in the US Open Cup semifinal and final, a road match in the Western Conference Championships last season and the decisive match in the CONCACAF Champions League Semifinal on the road against Santos Laguna last week, playing several different roles along the way.
“He’s a versatile player. He can play in the middle of midfield and he can play on either flank out wide,” Schmid said. “He’s got quick feet, he reads things fairly well, he works hard and he’s pushed his way in there as a result of it. He gives us options in terms of where we can play him.”
Last season, Caskey had one goal and four assists in 20 MLS matches and three goals and seven assists in 28 matches across all competitions. He was part of a group that included Andy Rose and David Estrada as young players saw increased playing time last year and continue their development in 2013, though Estrada has been out with injuries early this season, as well.
Though they have struggled to put the ball in the net, the hope is that once players like Martins, Evans and Johnson return to regular action some of those woes will dissipate. However, they are also guarded against thinking that those returns alone will make the difference.
“You can’t say that once our guys get back all of our problems will be solved. We’ve played nine different lineups in nine different games,” Schmid said. “Missing a forward certainly hurts. Missing a key player like an Evans makes it a little bit harder for you to establish your rhythm and get into a flow.”
The Sounders meet the Colorado Rapids on Saturday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. They will play two more road matches on May 4 against the Philadelphia Union and May 8 against Sporting Kansas City before returning home to host the San Jose Earthquakes on May 11.