MLS: What’s Next For Seattle Sounders FC?
The Seattle Sounders FC crashed out of the postseason once again after a 3-2 loss on Thursday night to the Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field. Seattle has made the postseason in each of their five seasons in MLS and has advanced past the first round just once. It seems to be the same blueprint each year with Seattle: make the postseason, struggle in the first leg, play frantic soccer in the second leg and come up just short.
The first thing that needs to be addressed for Seattle is the future of current manager Sigi Schmid. Schmid has been at the helm since Day 1, and you cannot overlook the accomplishments that he has achieved with this club: five-straight playoff appearances, three U.S. Open Cup Championships, one Cascadia Cup, a CONCACAF Champions League win in Mexico and a trip to the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals this year.
But for Schmid, the lack of playoff success will inevitably be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Seattle’s ownership will do their homework if indeed they decide to make a change at the manager spot, and I think that their best option may not be so far away. Jason Kreis of Real Salt Lake would be the best person for the job. The main reason for that is because his style of play and tactics would fit this current Sounders squad just perfectly.
Kreis likes to play in a 4-1-3-2 formation with Real Salt Lake, but the key to that is his diamond midfield, which would let Clint Dempsey roam just behind the strikers where he is the most comfortable. Schmid eventually switched to this style of play late in the season, but it did not take the way he would have liked.
If Seattle is to commit to a manager who plays this style, you can pretty much say goodbye to Mauro Rosales. Rosales is 32, occupies a designated player spot and would not fit into the diamond midfield. Rosales likes to play wide on the wing and whip crosses into the box from that wide position. With the diamond midfield style, there really is not much side-to-side space as the two “wing” players will play a little more centrally.
Freeing up this cap space as well will help the Sounders be able to keep Brad Evans and Osvaldo Alonso for next season.
Another player who could be on his way out is left-back Leo Gonzalez. Gonzalez has played with the Sounders since July 2009 when he transferred from Costa Rican side A.D. Municipal Liberia. He has been a very solid player for the Sounders in his time there, but he is now 32 and making $135,000 when his possible replacement Marc Burch is three years younger and $60,000 cheaper.
Seattle will also have to answer their goalkeeper question again as Michael Gspurning and Marcus Hahnemann are both out of contract. Expect to see both of them back next season. Even though there was some shaky play between the two this season, they are both solid goalkeepers when they are on top of their game.
Finally, we get to Steve Zakuani. Zakuani has struggled with his fitness ever since the horrific broken leg he suffered in 2011. If the Sounders were able to trade Zakuani away for a draft pick, that would clear away another $135,000 that they could use to upgrade other positions or keep some of their existing talent around.
Shalrie Joseph provides good leadership and playing experience but with his season full of injury, being 35 and now with Adam Moffat on the roster, it looks like Joseph may have played his final minutes for Seattle. It will be a very interesting offseason in the Pacific Northwest; the Sounders have a very strong squad — they just need to figure out how to use it.