1 - Hey, wait. I just looked at the standings, and we’ve won more games than you. Is your season really that bad to start? What’s going on over there?
Not great, Bob. Like, it’s bad. It’s really bad. The light at the end of the tunnel is rather faint, as the World Cup is going to take away two or three players (three for now), a half dozen players are injured, and there’s little help on the horizon. On top of all of that Clint Dempsey is either in poor form that he’ll break out of (this would be ideal) or he’s finished as a useful player (the most similar player per American Soccer Analysis is Niko Hansen).
Now, there is plenty of reason to think that the Sounders are better than their raw record indicates. But even then this is at best, a mediocre side with horrendous luck. Maybe when Osvaldo Alonso is healthy; Will Bruin is healthy; and Victor Rodriguez is healthy this team can pull themselves into 5-9 range in the West with the hope of a new DP and TAM player coming in August.
2 - As you watch RSL from a distance, have you had any worries about Saturday’s game? What’s the thing that scares you most about us?
Considering how poor the Seattle offense is right now? Nick Rimando. Sure, RSL allows too many shots, but Rimando is still capable of magic, is tied for second in the league in saves and can change games. If he has two great moments that could mean the Sounders don’t score.
There’s also some fun younger flair players like Corey Baird and Brooks Lennon who can slice through a defense. The defense here has been fairly good. Metrics love it, even with so much depth getting significant minutes, but they consistently give up a goal. The backline is good enough, even with the reduced availability. The defensive mids are also pretty OK, again, without a guy at the World Cup and an injury, yet stable enough. When a team has that many changes there will be communications errors, decent players can take advantage of that.
3 - If you had to trade two players between the teams — in a fair trade, please — what would you do? Who are you envying over here? (Note that you can’t choose Yura Movsisyan, even though he’s technically still our player.)
I don’t know that there is a great fit for a trade with these two teams. Seattle has some decent depth at centerback and in the attacking midfield, but that’s also where Salt Lake has depth. Lagerwey isn’t going to trade for a DP or TAM level player, though maybe he could swap one out. The intriguing players are Silva, Baird and Lennon. But I can’t put together a package that nabs any of them. Seattle’s best “spare parts” that would help a team without blowing up their cap are Alfaro, Delem and Shipp.
Seattle needs youth. Their championship window this offseason felt like it would be maybe two more years with this core. Now it’s at best one year, and that’s if everything goes right over the next few months. That’s probably why Baird and Lennon make sense here. They would help extend that window, before it slams shut.
Projected lineup: Frei; Francis, Alfaro, Marshall, Leerdam; Delem, C.Roldan; Shipp, Dempsey, Wolff; Neagle