Well, I managed to survive the Sounders Media Match. For those who don’t know anything about my athletic career (and that’s all of you except my family/friends): I stopped playing soccer in 9th grade, at which point I moved over to the American football (like most kids in the late 80’s/early 90’s). So, while I’m reasonably fast even for my current expanded size, I have next to no skills running onto the ball going to goal. Oh well, maybe I’m more of a defender than a forward at this point in my life.
Still, it was a fun experience, and I look forward to participating next year, as I record and commentate from the sidelines. If you want to watch the nonsense, feel free. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
On to the Media Day portion of the proceedings, the team came out to Century Link field and got a solid training session in. The team is basically set at this point; it doesn’t look like the Sounders will be signing Danny Leyva to a first-team deal, even as he continues to train with the 1st team. With the Defiance set to start their season next week and the depth of the first team, it doesn’t seem as if there is a particular rush to move the 15-year-old up a level. Given it’s unlikely he’d see much time (right now) with the Sounders, better to let him get plenty of minutes with Tacoma.
Make no mistake: The Sounders are INCREDIBLY high on Leyva. I’d hardly be shocked if he earned a 1st team deal by June or so.
At the presser, the team touched on a number of topics ahead of the start of the season. While some people may find this to be a surprise, Victor Rodriguez will occupy the third DP slot, until such time as the Sounders bring in another DP. Garth has previously talked about this being more of an accounting mechanism, as it allows the team to save a substantial amount of TAM going into the summer (or even the late spring before the transfer window closes).
Garth spoke to the philosophy behind this decision, which was essentially NOT to end up like the LA Galaxy, who continue to deal with how to resolve their 4 DP’s/3 slot situation. Whether you like that strategy or not, there is something to be said for having the flexibility do make changes as needed, and not be locked into a situation where you’re spending multiple millions to get rid of a player.
So the team looks pretty set for the time being, and on paper they look ready to do some damage. Nico Lodeiro will be the captain, with Stefan Frei backing him up. Everyone at this point is pretty healthy it seems, which is something the team hasn’t been able to boast about since 2016.
The Tacoma Defiance look pretty loaded too, but the question will be their physicality can match the technical ability, even at the USL level. Talking with Coach Brian Schmetzer, he pointed out there were some physical deficiencies with the youth, but that’s hardly a major problem (or their fault). Time is the only thing that will resolve that issue.
The season gets underway on Saturday, and it should be a great night under the lights. Let’s get it on.
- Amusingly Garth Lagerwey had some sauce to pour over the LA Galaxy, and their 4/3 DP issue. “Unlike the Galaxy we’re only allowed three DPs,” the General Manager and President of Soccer said. I asked him after the presser whether he was expecting a call from MLS for that line. He gave me a smile.
- I hope the explanation over Rodriguez’s status makes sense. As I alluded to above, there are a ton of reasons why the Sounders’ philosophy is a valid one, and it doesn’t have anything (necessarily) to do with being cheap. Especially given how MLS changes the rules (sometimes on the fly), it’s important to maintain flexibility.
- Garth did also mention they have room to add two TAM level players, should the need arise. But I think they’re going to wait and see where they are this summer, and then supplement any spots where there are injuries or lack of performance.
- Tacoma Defiance is just going to be very interesting to watch. I’d suggest anyone in the area get down and watch a few games. So much talent there.
- If I didn’t have a court hearing tomorrow afternoon, I’d likely sleep until Saturday.
- Thanks to the Sounders staff/equipment folks for putting this event on. Though I complained quite a bit, it was fun.