At last, Sounders Matchdays at CenturyLink Field are almost here!
While the empty stadium and different schedule will certainly add a unique wrinkle, there are still plenty of reasons to be excited about next stage of the 2020 MLS season.
Let’s dive in:
New look midfield
Sounders FC Designated Players Nicolás Lodeiro and João Paulo have yet to play a competitive minute together. With Lodeiro back to full health and JP recovering from a quad injury that kept him out of the MLS is Back Tournament, the Sounders midfield looks set to storm through the Western Conference. Add Gustav Svensson’s steely defensive prowess to the mix and you’ve got a balanced midfield that can dominate any opponent.
Morris is a monster
Jordan Morris has been on a ridiculous run of form since returning from injury ahead of the 2019 MLS season.
From his last 35 appearances in the MLS regular season and playoffs, Morris has notched 16 goals and 10 assists. In 2020 alone, the Mercer Island native has four goals and three assists from just 591 minutes of action with the Sounders.
Beyond the scoresheet, Morris has evolved into the one of the league’s most consistently dangerous wingers, blending his blistering pace with a knack for quickly combining in transition and serving up golden chances for teammates. If that form carries over into Phase One, the rest of the league needs to look out.
Joevin’s LAFC cameo
When Joevin Jones returned to the Sounders following his two-year stint in Germany, he was deployed primarily out on the right wing. In 2020, he’s played largely in his preferred left back spot, showing flashes of the scintillating attacking quality that propelled the Sounders to back-to-back MLS Cup appearances in 2016 and 2017. Look no further than his game-changing substitute appearance against LAFC, in which he set up Will Bruin’s first goal within minutes of entering the match and nearly pulled Seattle level with another pinpoint cross.
Speaking of Bruin, the veteran striker marked his return from a year on the sidelines through injury with a clutch goal against LAFC. Throughout his rehabilitation, Bruin spoke candidly about how his injury instilled a new appreciation in him for soccer.
With a hungry Bruin bolstering the attacking corps, Schmetzer has plenty of tactical flexibility going forward. Whether it’s utilizing the Dancing Bear as an impact sub or playing him alongside Raúl Ruidíaz in a two-forward setup, the Sounders will have plenty of firepower in the attack.
Back line chemistry
Consistency has been a bit of an issue for the Sounders back line in 2020.
Between injuries and new acquisitions, there’s been plenty of turnover in defense for the Rave Green from game to game. With the schedule now in place, the Sounders can start to build chemistry along their back line. Xavier Arreaga and Yeimar Gómez possess complementary skill sets as a center back pairing but have only played together in four of the team’s eight matches across all competitions in 2020. Since signing with the Rave Green in 2017, Kelvin Leerdam has established himself as one of the premier outside backs in MLS, while Nouhou has clearly added an attacking wrinkle to his already robust defensive tools.