Sounders Have the Coach, Now How About the Team
The coach is in place, as Sigi Schmid will lead the Sounders charge, promising a friendly working environment and hoping to have some early success since he knows that Keller is at the tail end of his career, but what kind of team will the Sounders be all in all? As an expansion team the expectations aren’t that high, yet this is Seattle, with no more NBA in town soccer is more in focus. The city of caffeine and rain know soccer and will want to see a good product.
The Sounders started out as just as just three players for quite some time: Kasey Keller, formerly of Fulham in the English Premier League, Sebastien Le Toux, the only former Sounder of the USL1 they kept around, and young Sanna Nyassi from Gambia’s U20 World Cup side.
Then came the expansion draft:
- Nate Jaqua (Houston Dynamo)
- Nathan Sturgis (Real Salt Lake)
- Jeff Parke (New York Red Bulls)
- Jarrod Smith (Toronto FC)
- Khano Smith (New England Revolution)
- Peter Vagenas (Los Angeles Galaxy)
- Tyson Wahl (Kansas City Wizards)
- James Riley (San Jose Earthquakes)
- Stephen King (Chicago Fire)
- Brad Evans (Columbus Crew)
The player that stands out for me is Nate Jaqua. He’s a quality striker with good size and he’s a proven scorer. This was a smart selection by the Sounders. Then there’s Peter Vagenas, a favorite it seems of Sigi, and he’ll be the engine for the Sounders’ midfield. Vagenas has been in the league for a number of years and plays smart simple soccer. However, he’s also a safe bet and doesn’t offer much in terms of flair and attacking sense, he may play too simple. Is simple is what the Sounders need and want or it could prove to be too stagnant and lacking a punch?
It’s probably too early to say just what kind of team the Sounders will be, although for one, we do know they’ll have a solid keeper in Kasey Keller who’s not going to make them like the LA Galaxy: who’ve always seemed to have keeper problems and let in easy goals. So, they have a major piece in place no doubt.
What is extraordinary is the Sounders will have a huge fan base, as close to 20,000 people have purchased season tickets for the club already. And again, Seattle’s fans won’t stand for a poor product on the field. They’re like soccer fans from outside the United States, the kind that don’t need to paint their faces or scream their lungs out, although they will, rather, their support is nearly palpable in it’s extreme focus – through a hush tone or silence or an ooh or ahh when something is done right. There’s a collective concentration on the game.
However, I think they made a big mistake in signing Freddie Ljungberg, and even more so now after his hip surgery and his consistently troublesome hamstrings. Why not go after a midfielder who can stay at the club for years to come? I think Ljungberg’s injuries will cause him to miss games frequently and never really settle into the team nor the MLS, and then on top of his injuries, he has to play on turf.
Moreover, there’s the price tag for this former Arsenal star, I think it was a bit high too for a player of his age. He is no Beckham. He is no Blanco. He’s no Angel. He’s no Schelotto. And Ljungberg won’t be feeding balls to Pires or Henry, he’ll have to adjust to the MLS and become more of a possession player than an attacker. Something that Keller alluded to in this video clip.
- If there’s a player that I would have scooped up it would be the out of favor midfielder Christian Gomez of the Colorado Rapids, although he too has age against him at 34, he’s a bit cheaper than a Ljungberg.
- Technical Director of Seattle Sounders FC, Chris Henderson gives an interview, as a former player for Sigi at UCLA, he now works as his boss.