The Sounders have made a habit of struggling early and catching fire late for a solid playoff run the last three seasons, but 2019 poses new challenges for the active MLS leader in consecutive playoff appearances. Well the rest of the Western Conference has gotten stronger, Seattle appears to be falling behind this offseason. A late transfer of the summer window may be needed to help them keep pace.
Seattle lost Osvaldo Alonso in free agency this year and hasn’t made the marquee signing to compensate. Nicolas Lodeiro and an emerging Cristian Roldan headline the midfield, but the obvious lack of a destroyer in defensive midfield could be their undoing.
Tactics & Key Players
Seattle has made late charges for the past three seasons on the back of outstanding defending and key playmakers picking apart defenses. The offense looks as good as ever, but 2019 will be a real test for the defense without Alonso playing out front. 2018 started slow with Alonso hurt and his returned sparked the team.
Goalkeeper: Stefan Frei might be the best goalkeeper in the league. When he’s having a poor game, the rest of the team seems to suffer.
Defenders: Seattle’s defense has been solid no matter who is out there and what injuries have been sustained. If Kim Kee-Hee and Chad Marshall say healthy, this unit is a serious contender for the best in MLS in 2019. Kelvin Leerdam has been impressive and Brad Smith is a young star in the making.
Defensive Midfielders: Seattle has made their living with a destroyer in front of the defense and the loss of Alonso is going to be a major blow to their roster. Gustav Svensson has shown well for the club, but will need to elevate his game that next step to really fill the void.
Attacking Midfields: Seattle will live and die by how effective their number two midfielder can be, expect Cristian Roldan and Victor Rodriguez to compete for this title. Teams will key off on Nico Lodeiro for good reason. He can pick apart a defense as well as anyone in the league and teams have to respect him. That opens up the game for the second guy, Roldan, to really run the show.
Wingers: Jordan Morris is returning from an ACL injury this year and has been a bust since signing his contract extension. Seattle will the need to most from him to avoid the early slump. Otherwise they will be relying on Rodriguez who has the potential to be a game changer, but doesn’t always show up.
Forwards: Raul Ruidiaz was an electric spark in 2018. His summer signing and immediate impact did more for the club than the Dempsey signing to turn this team around. Without his inclusion, it’s tough to envision Seattle’s playoff run. Given a full preseason, he should be able to cement a position as an elite striker in the league.
Osvaldo Alonso’s absence will be the most noticeable change in the lineup to start 2019. This isn’t just in regards to his ability either. Ozzie was a leader and fan favorite in Seattle and his presence off the field will be just as hard to replace.
It’s not all negative though. Jordan Morris’ return to the lineup could be just the boost the team needs. Being a home town kid has its perks and he could become the next big story to carry the team back to the playoffs.
Seattle is stacked with fantasy options from top to bottom. Taking three guys from the back for a good matchup is a definite possibility any given week. Clean sheet hunting hasn’t been a major issue for managers given the right opponent.
Offensively you have three premium players to look at in Ruidiaz, Lodeiro, and Roldan. Plus Roldan isn’t priced as a premium player, but should give near premium returns.
Lineup according to our Seattle Pro, Andrew Crollard: Mostly attacking down the left with Rodriguez and Smith who will get forward A LOT. We’ll basically play a 3-3-3-1. Gonna be a bit more counters this year with Morris the option on the right and Smith the option on the left. Depth is a serious issue this year and if Lodeiro goes down, we just play 4-4-2 empty bucket.