Roster depth continues to drive Sounders success


Over the course of a Major League Soccer season, depth is always crucial.

The Seattle Sounders have demonstrated it in spades to start their 2023 MLS campaign, with a first-choice XI becoming increasingly difficult to determine on a week-to-week basis. Breakout performances from players like U-22 Initiative winger Léo Chú and Homegrown midfielder Josh Atencio have only widened the options Head Coach Brian Schmetzer has at his disposal.

Fixture congestion and injuries tend to have a say in those decisions as the season progresses. For now, right back Alex Roldan said that the team is very much looking at the situation as a high-class problem.

“Everyone out here is competing,” said Roldan on Thursday. “[Everyone is] competing for their job, for their role, regardless if you come into the game for 5-10 minutes or are a starter. Everyone's always looking to improve, the team's always looking to improve.”

“Those are good problems to have. We're a team, we all have one goal in mind, which is to win a championship and you can only do that when you have these types of problems.”

It becomes easier when the lineup selections lead to positive results.

Perched at first place in the Western Conference through MLS Matchday 7 (5W-1L-1D, 16 points), Alex’s brother Cristian said the strong run of form has contributed to universal buy-in from the group, regardless of who’s playing.

“I think it helps when you play well,” said Cristian. “Guys buy in a little bit more because they see the team doing well. Decisions are being made and guys are taking full advantage of it. So that's when it's beautiful and it works great and then we see it in training.”

Going into Saturday’s Matchday 8 rivalry clash at Portland Timbers (7:30 p.m. PT; MLS Season Pass on Apple TV app), exactly how Seattle will line up will continue to be a source of intrigue.

With the rest of the MLS campaign ahead, along with competitions such as this year’s expanded Leagues Cup and US Open Cup also on the docket, the depth established in the early season will only become more pivotal.

“The depth is amazing,” said Cristian. “It continues to get better and then it's about Coach Schmetzer managing players. That's his job, and of course we've got to [manage ourselves] as leaders of the team and as players, you've got to keep guys open-minded and together because it is a long season.”

“I feel that the team is definitely bought in. I think these days with sports science and all the games that we're playing this year, you're seeing a lot more teams rotate. A lot of teams, don’t just have 11 starters, but you have 13-14 guys that you rely on each and every week. We're seeing that, I think, here, and guys are taking full advantage, which is also great, because now you have that dilemma whether or not to play them in the next game.”

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