2018 Fantasy Primer Seattle Sounders Preview

Seattle Sounders

2017 Seattle Sounders Review

It was more of the same from the Sounders. Same general tactics and just enough success to keep the fans placated. Lodeiro and Morris took a step backward and Roldan made a huge leap forward. Our signings were generally fantastic, as Bruin, Leerdam, and Svensson all played large roles over the course of the season. That lifeless final sure left a bitter taste in the mouth though…

Transaction Watch

OUT: Joevin Jones, Brad Evans, Lamar Neagle

IN: Waylon Francis, Magnus Wolff Eikrem, Handwalla Bawana

 

This transfer window is moving slower than the traffic into the city during morning rush-hour. We acquired Francis from Columbus, signed Eikrem, got a couple draft picks, and signed homegrown player Bawana. And that’s it so far.

The only fantasy-relevant piece leaving the club was Joevin Jones on a free, who is already scoring goals in Germany. Francis is a fairly close like-for-like replacement in terms of style of play, plus Nouhou was already playing minutes at left back last season. Long-time floating position player, Brad Evans, missed last year due to injury and is currently without contract. Other than those two, the rest of what the club lost this off-season were reserves – Calum Mallace, Lamar Neagle, Tyler Miller and Aaron Kovar.

Expected/Predicted Starting XI Picture

Not much change from last year for the Sounders. Francis replaces Jones and the only remaining question is who starts between Bruin and Rodriguez.

Tactical Analysis

The Sounders want to slow the game down on both sides of the ball and dictate the pace of the game. There’s plenty of build-up from the back after regaining possession that concentrates in triangles on the wing before progressing forward to… more triangles on the wing. Penetration is a struggle for the post-Obafemi version of the Sounders. There’s a reluctance for the defenders to play a split ball to the center-mids that is noticeable across all teams down to the youth academy, so it must be by design. Similarly, the Sounders did not create a ton of chances last year with thru-balls and instead often relied on going around defenses. There were flashes of good movement from Victor Rodriguez in the latter part of the year and if Morris returns to making the runs he made in late 2016, penetration and quality scoring opportunities might come more readily for the Sounders.

In transition, the Sounders are not a high-pressing team. With the old legs of Dempsey, it makes sense to delay and recoup shape and structure. You’ll often see at least one player sprinting back to cover space upon a turnover from the men in green. This is designed to help the slow and aging center back pair of Marshall and Torres keep the game in front of them so they don’t have to defend 1v1 in space. The Sounders stay compact and force opponents into trying their luck from distance or resorting to crosses. After the arrival of Leerdam, the Sounders were the best defense in the league, conceding just

Coach Brian Schmetzer has stated that he wants to use a diamond midfield 4-4-2 as an alternative from the preferred 4-2-3-1. In the pre-season scrimmage against Portland, there was a bit more directness in the play with the two-forward set with Morris trying to run in behind while Bruin was responsible more for the hold-up play and trying to knock down headers.

2018 Expectations

Seattle feels like they’ll contend for a top-two seed in the western conference. Concacaf Champion’s League still feels like it is probably out of reach with our current squad. The team has enough depth to rotate in less-important matches to hang around in several competitions. Which ones are actually prioritized remains to be seen.

Closing Fantasy Thoughts/Conclusion

Prices are going to be very relevant in how many Sounders players wind up in our squads and how often they feature. The defense feels like a good bet for clean sheet points. The attack will depend on matchup as there will be several options that will likely feel just a bit too expensive for what they produce.

About Andrew Crollard

Andrew has worked as both an economist/data analyst and as a university and youth soccer coach. Naturally, marrying soccer and data together is a perfect fit.

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