10 Things To Watch In 2010

1.    Freddie Ljungberg – After coming into the team late in training camp, I’m very interested to see how the Sounders FC play with their field general now that they have a year of experience playing with him in the midfield.  He played his best – and likewise, so did the team – toward the end of the year and he earned Player of the Month honors in the season’s final month.  I think much of that will carry over to Season 2.

2.    Fredy Montero – Like Ljungberg, Fredy Montero had to adjust to some of the different styles of play in Major League Soccer.  Can Montero, and Ljungberg for that matter, continue to adjust to the physical climate around the league.  Montero and Ljungberg were the two most fouled players in the league.  Can they use that to their advantage in 2010?

3.    The 2010 lineup – Will we see drastic changes to the team that won the US Open Cup and reached the MLS Cup playoffs in their inaugural season?  Sigi Schmid has seemed to be a proponent of keeping things intact, with perhaps some tweaking here and there.  

4.    Spain – I have never been to Europe before, so I look forward to seeing Spain while the team plays at the La Manga Club.  But even more than that, I am curious to see what we bring back with us to Seattle.  Will there be another European star on the roster?

5.    Philadelphia – I’ll get a sneak peak of the city at the SuperDraft in January, but I really look forward to seeing how Philadelphia responds to the Union.  Will it live up to the expectations Seattle has set?

6.    And speaking of the standards set in Seattle, the Sounders FC faithful – We are looking at upwards of 35,000 fans at each game at Qwest Field.  Will that make for a louder stadium?  Will it dilute the atmosphere?  I think I know the answer, but I’m really interested in seeing how the fans respond in Year Two.

7.    New England, Houston and Chivas USA – In 2009, those three teams were the bugaboo for the Sounders FC as Seattle went just 1-5-3 against the trio of the most physical teams in the league.  Will a changed attitude in those games be enough to get over the hump against these teams?

8.    Brad Evans – Invited to USMNT training camp next week, the Sounders FC midfielder has an outside chance of going to South Africa for the World Cup.  What plans does Bob Bradley have in store for Evans?

9.    World Cup – All eyes will be on South Africa this summer.  Who will come out on top?  Will the US make their marks and carry some momentum from their Confederations Cup final appearance?  And how will teams around the MLS – notably the LA Galaxy, who will be without Landon Donovan and David Beckham for the first half of the season – adjust to the midseason break?

10.    CBA – Those dreaded three letters … the collective bargaining agreement expires at the end of January.  As much as I’d prefer not to think about it, the CBA will certainly be a key storyline over the next several weeks.  Will the league go through a work-stoppage?  What changes will a new CBA bring?