After the first day of preseason, one thing is immediately clear: 2020 stands to be perhaps the most action-packed season in its MLS history.
Battling up to five competitions – the MLS regular season, Concacaf Champions League, U.S. Open Cup, Campeones Cup and, hopefully, the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs – the Sounders will almost assuredly play more matches than they did a year ago.
“I think we played 39 games last year,” said Sounders FC GM & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey. “We’re probably going to play between 45-50 this year, depending on Champions League and a variety of things.”
The Sounders played 41 games in 2018, 41 games in 2017 and 45 in 2016. If the Sounders reach the finals of CCL, the U.S. Open Cup and Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, they could play up to 52 matches in 2020.
With the number of potential matches rising so drastically, every player on the roster will get opportunities to showcase their quality.
It comes at a perfect time, as the club’s player development project reaches an inflection point. Homegrowns Danny Leyva, 16, and Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez, 17, already established themselves in the First Team last season, combining for five starts and nine appearances in the MLS regular season.
The club’s top prospects – a host of young talents like Azriel Gonzalez, Danny Robles, Ray Serrano, Alec Diaz, Shandon Hopeau, Josh Atencio, Sam Rogers, Marlon Vargas and Alec Diaz are already under contract with the Tacoma Defiance – have reached an age where the global standard is for them to break into the First Team.
“All of these guys are going to get reps,” added Lagerwey. “We’re going to have lots of opportunities for young players to come in and try to prove themselves as well because we’re going to have more reps.”
You can find the Sounders’ 2020 MLS schedule here.