Returning players: Eddie Johnson (2012: 28 GP, 24 GS, 2120 min, 14 G, 3 A; Career: 155 GP, 120 GS, 11049 min, 55 G, 16 A); David Estrada (2012: 17 GP, 12 GS, 1027 min, 5 G; Career: 23 GP, 14 GS, 1223 min, 5 G) ; Sammy Ochoa (2012: 9 GP, 3 GS, 323 min, 1 G, 1 A; Career: 13 GP, 3 GS, 423 min, 3 G, 1 A); Babayele Sodade
Losses: Fredy Montero (2012: 33 GP, 28 GS, 2576 min, 13 G, 8 A; Career: 119 GP, 109 GS, 9450 min, 47 G, 34 A)
Spotlight: Johnson had quite a year in 2012 after joining the Sounders in a preseason trade with the Montreal Impact. In addition to scoring 14 goals to lead the Sounders and being named MLS Newcomer of the Year, he also made his triumphant return to the US National Team picture with appearances in consecutive FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against Antigua and Barbuda, against whom he scored two goals, and Guatemala.
In the match against Guatemala, he notched the assist on the game-winning goal by Clint Dempsey to send the US through to the Hexagonal round. There, he started against Honduras and is now fully entrenched in the lineup for Jurgen Klinsmann’s side. This will be a big year for Johnson, as form for both club and country in 2013 will go a long way toward determining the team that Klinsmann takes to the World Cup, if the US qualifies.
Overview: You can’t talk about the forward role in Seattle without talking about the loss of the club’s all-time leading scorer in Montero. On loan to Millonarios in his native Colombia, Montero’s absence has left a seemingly big gap at the forward position, but one that isn’t insurmountable for the Sounders. Estrada filled in incredibly for Johnson in 2012 when he missed the start of the season with a hamstring injury, scoring four goals in the first two matches for the Sounders, including a hat trick in the season opener against Toronto FC.
Ochoa has proven capable when he gets onto the field, but has been called on primarily in Open Cup and Champions League matches in his first two seasons with the Sounders. The partner for Johnson up top could go a long way toward determining Seattle’s offensive success – and the success of Johnson, for that matter.