Throughout the first 17 matches of the 2014 MLS season, Sounders FC has touted its depth. With 18 players logging minutes in at least seven matches and 24 total seeing regular season action, Seattle has a luxury not often seen in MLS circles.
Creating that depth was a goal for Sounders FC in the offseason and it has paid off in the first half of the season because of injuries, suspensions and international duty. On Saturday against Vancouver Whitecaps FC, it was shown yet again when Tristan Bowen made his first appearance of the season, utilizing his speed on the wings to add a new dimension to Seattle’s attack, though it proved fruitless in a 1-0 defeat, Seattle’s first against a Western Conference opponent.
“We wanted to get him on there because his speed could open something up for us. Unfortunately he never really got a chance to run at somebody or use that speed,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “He’s been working hard in training and I’m sure he’s frustrated that he didn’t get that opportunity to get somebody isolated 1v1.”
Seattle has gotten significant contributions from veteran goal-scorers Chad Barrett (4 goals, 1 assist), Kenny Cooper (3 goals, 4 assists) as well as defenders Jalil Anibaba, Dylan Remick and Zach Scott in reserve roles. But with Bowen’s speed as a wide midfielder and forward, Schmid has even more decisions to make once more players become available.
The 23-year-old Bowen played his first five MLS seasons with the LA Galaxy and Chivas USA, signing with the Galaxy as the league’s first ever Homegrown player. In that time, he nurtured his game as a professional and now is looking to offer his unique skillset to help the top team in MLS stay atop the table in the second half of the season after various injuries derailed his start to the season.
“I think my speed is as good as anyone’s in this league. It’s just a matter of getting that final ball, final shot on goal. I think when that comes, that’ll be something that sets me apart from the rest of the guys in the league,” Bowen said. “I think it was decent, and it’s just something to build off of.”
Sounders FC’s depth has created competition in training and has often meant that players who would be seeing regular time with most teams in MLS are left watching from the sidelines. To Bowen, that is the price to pay to play with a team of Seattle’s caliber.
“It’s been difficult but I think that’s one of the things that the team focused on in the offseason. Which was to create a lot more depth within the team,” he said. “It’s just a matter of going out there and getting results. Whether it’s guys that haven’t played much minutes, or guys that have been playing minutes, it’s a matter of getting out there, and getting a result for the team.”
Sounders FC’s second round pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft Jimmy Ockford has been in Seattle of late, training with the team during his mid-season break with the New York Cosmos. The 6-foot-1 center back from the University of Louisville signed with Seattle during training camp and then went on loan to the Cosmos of the second-division NASL, where he appeared in one regular season match and one U.S. Open Cup match in the first half of the season.
U.S. OPEN CUP SEMIFINAL PAIRINGS SET
U.S. Soccer announced the potential semifinal pairings in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Monday. If Sounders FC can advance past the Portland Timbers on Wednesday, Seattle will host the winner of Wednesday’s match between the Atlanta Silverbacks and Chicago Fire in the semifinals at Starfire Stadium on August 13. Either matchup would be a rematch of previous Open Cup pairings, as Sounders FC beat Atlanta in the third round of the 2012 tournament and Chicago in the 2011 final.
LATE NIGHT WITH CLINT DEMPSEY
Sounders FC forward Clint Dempsey is scheduled to appear on Late Night with David Letterman on Wednesday. Dempsey scored two goals with the U.S. National Team on its run to the Round of 16 in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The U.S. captain is slated to return to Seattle for Friday’s training session ahead of the full-stadium match against the Portland Timbers on Sunday.