Monday, November 19, 2012

Sounders Roster Predictions 2013

Here’s a complete biased and unsubstantiated prediction of Sounders 2013: who’s staying, who’s leaving.

I know nearly nothing about the inner-working of MLS player/team management, but I predicted in 2009 that Sounders would/should sign Eddie Johnson (It was a logical choice: Sounders needed someone with USNMT, preferably World Cup experience, they needed a forward, and someone not-too expensive. Johnson was spiraling downwards in Europe and needed to come back to the US). I didn’t put it into cyberspace so my claims of clairvoyance have been dismissed. I dont’ want that to happen again.

I’ll try channeling Nat Silver, but again, have no statistical analysis whatsoever to back these statements up. Probably leaving; probably staying; leans towards... solid... toss-up.

If I knew how to caption photos, I'd say "Hasta el Ozzie Siempre..."

Gspurning: Solid staying
Proven to be a great signing and replacement for Keller. Expect him to be here for a while.

Johansson: toss-up
A slightly better trade-up from Riley, but only slightly. Not sure how he likes Seattle. Friberg’s sudden off-season departure last year, and Ljungberg’s brief stint in town makes me think the Swedes just don't like Seattle. That’s not a bad thing.

Parke: toss-up
I sense some unease between Parke and the bosses. Remember him being benched for a couple weeks earlier this season? Remember his angry tweets about being benched? Remember how he saved Seattle’s ass on more than one occasion? When Sigi doesn’t like someone, they tend to leave (Marshall). Parke’s been great... but...

Hurtado: toss-up
Never returned to his pre-ACL tear days. On a slow but steady descent. I don’t think Sigi would scrape his two starting center backs, but he would if he could.

Scott: probably stays
He’s been here too long, his chances of getting picked up by another club are slim. I think he’ll stick around for another season or two before retiring.

Tiffert: toss-up
He joined mid-season; for a third of that, he was DP material. Another third, unnoticeable and the final third he flopped when we needed him the most (RSL, round 1 vs LAG). He could go either way, but it would be nice to have a real DP.

Alonso: solid leaving
Ozzie is the biggest chunk of gold in the entire league. Until this year one thing kept him from being picked up by a big Euro team: a useless Cuban passport. Now that he’s a US citizen, though, doors are opening. My fantasy is Barcelona, but he’s too physical. It’d be nice if he played in EPL, a mid-league team (knowing nothing about EPL, I’ll just shoot here: Everton or Fulham). Hasta luego, companero, te queramos para siempre.

Evans: solid staying
Sigi loves Evans. That’s the only apparent explanation as to why he stayed here as long as he has. Luckily, he’s improved, but not to the level that another team would want him.

Zakuani: solid staying
Two years ago, Zakuani’s prospects were much like Alonso’s: the Sounders a mere stepping stone to greater glory in Europe. Then the tragedy happened. The semi-final finally saw him near pre-injury level, which is good cause I can’t image the Sounders getting rid of him. He’ll be here a while.

Johnson: solid staying
Obviously, Sigi’s biggest mistake of the year was not playing Johnson in round 1 vs LAG. Given his greatest success this year was signing Johnson in the first place, I guess that balances it out. Johnson should win comeback of the year -his return to MLS directly resulted in saving the entire nation from a humiliating loss against Antigua. It’s hard for me to imagine what an emotional rollercoaster this guy has been on: a star at 17, playing in the world cup, then moving to Europe and bombing out in the worst way (punctuated with an unsavory appearance in the tabloids). To go through that esteem-breaking trajectory, only to be given a second chance, a chance that paid in spades... Johnson is endebted to Sigi. They wont’ want him to leave, he won’t want to leave, and he’s turning into the biggest star on the team, a connection to the national team that the Sounders have always deserved and wanted/needed. He’s here for a while.

Montero: probably leaving
My friend after the game revealed that she still hates Montero. He hasn’t won every heart in Seattle yet, after 3 years. He played great tonight... but tonight. He’s dangerous, but... he’s been given his trial in Seattle. Has he proven himself for Euro-teams? Who knows. Could go either way.


Estrada: Solid staying

Like Evans, Sigi loves David. That love finally proved itself this season. An injury put the breaks on a stellar beginning of the season, but he’s shown his value, and he won’t want to leave.

Martinez: Probably leaving... change that: toss up.
A loan-player doesn’t make a playoff winning golazo without getting a full contract offer in return. But I think the Sounders are but a blip on what will be a phenomenal career. Other teams are watching, and one of them might beat out Sounders offer. Not to question my own prediction, but here’s another fantasy scenario: Sounders pick up him in 2013 as a full player on a two year contract. The first year, he leads Honduras to qualify. The second year, he’s part of a respectable (better than what most people predict, elimination in round 2) of the World Cup, in which he catches the attention of Barcelona. I really want a Sounder to be picked up by FCB and vice-versa; Martinez this the most likely on the list.

Rosales: leans to leaving

He had a great half season of captaincy. He’s getting old, slow, and is injury-prone. A best-case scenario for 2013 is that he misses half the season to one ailment or another. Not great prospects.


Hahnemann: solid staying
Marcus will end his career with a full season with the Sounders in 2013, during which he’ll get a handful of starts, but never overtake Gspurning for the #1 slot. I can imagine him tending net to the Sounders 4th Open Cup Victory, which would be a nice icing on cake.

Ochoa: probably leaves.

Sounders need options for forwards, Ochoa is slightly better than Jaqua, but... slightly better than Jaqua. Estrada’s injury gave him a chance to prove himself, and he didn’t prove himself to be worth much. We need someone better.

Gonzalez: leans to leaving
It’s good to have 2 solid left defenders, and zach scott to fill in as needed. Yet he’s always been on the short list of transfers. For as long as he’s been with the team, he hasn’t become a stalwart, feature player. Expendable. LEANS TO LEAVING

And now the rest of the team...

Burch: I can’t help but thinking how this guy won the #1 left back position, and then gets suspended for using a homophobic slur. He plays for Seattle, which voted 80% for gay marriage. The irony. PROBABLY STAYS

Carrasco: Didn’t have a great season in 2012. We have too many midfielders. His greatest asset is his girlfriend. PROBABLY LEAVES

Caskey: Played horribly in the LAG game 1; had a decent season otherwise. We have too many midfielders, and if you lined them all up, as I probably should, he’d be ranked... Probably traded too another team where he’ll start consistently. PROBABLY LEAVES. UPDATE! I listed the mid-fielders. With the prospect of losing Alonso, Rosales, and Tiffert, we'll probably keep Caskey. PROBABLY STAYS.

Cato: decent season, some starts, some subs, then got pushed out by a healthy choice of midfielders. He’s young and promising. I'm gonna guess that he stay. PROBABLY STAYS.

Duran (D): I never saw this guy play. Telling that when we were short a defender, we played in a midfielder instead (Seamon). PROBABLY LEAVES.

Ford: Like midfielders, Sounders have too many keepers (5). I think Ford is tied for 3rd with Meredith. PROBABLY STAYS.

Ianni: It’s good to have three solid starting center backs. I remember when I used to call hims “Cringe”. SOLID STAYS

Meredith: I'm torn between him and Ford. He had a chance (Ford didn't) and blew it (Ford didn't). TOSS UP.

Rose: So, doing the math, Sounders have 11 midfielders; currently Rose is ranked seventh in pecking order, but losing Alonso, Rosales, and Tiffert brings him to 4th. Not a bad place. SOLID STAYS.

The end of the roster is filled with a bunch of young guys who haven’t played much, if at all. My predictions are weaker here (cause they are so strong in the rest of the piece!) and amount to gut instinct, and whether Sigi wants a team or potential stars (like Evans and Estrada) or if these guys just ain’t going to hack it/will want to play for a lower team where they’ll get more minutes.

Seamon (M): Did he finally have a come-back? Will he pull an Estrada? Or remain more like Stephen King? Though he made waves with a surprising cameo in defense against RSL, I think the Sounders will want stronger midfielders as reserves, and Seamon will want to play more. A starting role with New England, perhaps. LEANS TO LEAVING.

Sodade (F): I have no idea, but he’s only 22. TOSS UP.

Steres (D): Likewise, only 22. Don’t know enough. A cheap reserve player that shows promise? TOSS UP.

Tetteh (M): has been with the Sounders 2 years now, and played against ManU. TOSS UP.

Weber: (G): if you have 5 goalies and need to get rid of at least one, do you cut the 30 year old, or one of the two 23 year olds? TOSS UP.

There you have it. Now may the dice roll...

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