How’d 2013 Treat ‘Em: 15-12-7 (W-L-T), 42 gf, 42 ga; 4th in the West
Seattle’s stumble to the post-season made for harrowing viewing. Even for a neutral (well, hostile), it got to a point where each collapse made the case for politely avoiding the next outing. OK, yes, the darkness took over for the playoff series against Portland, when it did the soul good to see the little lambs pick their guileless way to the altar…ah, good times. All in all, the fanfare and hype surrounding Clint Dempsey’s arrival in the Emerald City became the season. Deuce became more of a distraction than an asset – Even Eddie Johnson’s “pay me” stunt grew from the signing – and the show goes on, courtesy of the off-season loan to Fulham. Then again, when your starting ‘keeper lets (at least) two goals in through the five-hole in the playoff stretch, your team has bigger problems than distractions. Seattle paid big for a pass that would take them past the first round of the playoffs only to find out it didn’t work when they got there. And that’s gotta hurt like a bitch for a club as ambitious as Seattle.
Exciting Additions! – Chad Marshall, Marco Pappa
Tricky Departures… – Mauro Rosales, Adam Moffat, Eddie Johnson (!), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado
Quality Parts: Osvaldo Alonso, Clint Dempsey (probably), Brad Evans, Marshall, Lamar Neagle, DeAndre Yedlin
It Gets Better If They Come Good: Kenny Cooper, David Estrada, Stefan Frei, Obafemi Martins, Pappa, Andy Rose, Djimi Traore
What I’d Expect Based on the Above:
For all that Seattle gained (Marshall might be great; ditto for Pappa) and lost (uh, how much offense did the Rosales/Johnson combination generate?), Seattle heads into 2014 with largely the same personnel and problems – e.g. 1) how to fit Dempsey into the attack; 2) how to tighten up the defense if they can’t get #1 to come together; and 3) giving Alonso a little help in central midfield. I didn’t watch Seattle a ton last year, but #3 stood front and center just about every time – and I think that’s the one issue they haven’t really attempted to address. After Michael Gspurning’s painful late year collapse, Frei looks like a huge upgrade – and he’s totally read to cope with getting shelled thanks to his time in Toronto. Pappa should give more energy than Rosales and could add goals on top of assists. Even Cooper, frustrating as he can be, could straighten out that offense…not that he’ll play as a target forward or anything…though that seems like it’d help…I dunno. Seattle’s just kind of a hard case, mainly because of clear risk of the larger mess swallowing up all those good parts. The job of getting all that crap oiled and to where it works falls to Sigi Schmid, obviously. It’s not beyond him, but, for my money, it’s not going to help that he’s on the hot seat from First Kick. With the West looking better as a whole, that task only gets harder. And that could mean that this very expensive team won’t even have a chance to make their annual bow out of the first round.
2014 Season Opener: v. Sporting KC, March 8