At the conclusion of the 2012 season, Sounders FC was very open that they would be undergoing some changes before the 2013 season.
Through five games on the MLS calendar, they have already had five players make their Major League Soccer debuts after Philip Lund made his first appearance for the Sounders FC in a scoreless draw with the New England Revolution. The 23-year-old Danish midfielder played 16 minutes in a forward role and got his feet wet in front of a crowd of 38,323.
“It was an amazing experience for me. I was very glad to get my debut, just bad we didn’t get the victory,” Lund said.
Lund has seen many miles before making his first appearance. He had to return to Denmark for a week to get his work permit while the Sounders were preparing for a busy spell in action. When he returned, he was unable to get time with the first team until late last week when they returned from Mexico and finally, he got on the field on Saturday.
“Lund has been training well. He’s busy and he’s active. He hits a heavy shot with either foot so we felt like giving him a go,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “I think he was maybe a little bit overwhelmed his first game so I don’t think he got into it or got involved as much as I think he could have. But it’s based upon what he’s been doing.”
Lund joins a list of MLS newcomers in Seattle that includes veterans Djimi Traore and Obafemi Martins and rookies DeAndre Yedlin and Eriq Zavaleta.
Traore has been a boon to the defense, particularly with the absence of Patrick Ianni, who returned to Reserve League action this week against the LA Galaxy. Traore has played in four of Seattle’s five matches, solidifying the back line with a veteran presence. Martins has been limited in his role by a knee injury, but has been eased back into training this week. And while Zavaleta played well in a brief appearance against the San Jose Earthquakes, he really staked a claim for playing time with a goal against the Galaxy in Reserve League action this week.
Then there is Yedlin.
The 19-year-old Sounders FC Academy alum and the club’s first Homegrown Player has been one of the league’s top rookies through the first two months, playing all 450 minutes for the Sounders in league play this year.
“Certainly his energy is good, his speed is good, he competes, and that’s all you can ask for a kid his age,” Schmid said. “His passing is pretty good, he’s comfortable with the ball, he’s still going to get better in terms of his decisions and when to make them because spaces close down a little quicker here, but he’s done well.”
Only two teams, Toronto FC and Chivas USA, have played more MLS newcomers in 2013 and the five the Sounders have played is more than they played in the 2011 season and equal to the number they played in 2010.