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MLS Season Preview: Seattle Sounders


The Seattle Sounders second year as an MLS team ended much the way its first one ended, with a first-round playoff exit and feeling like a talent-filled club had underachieved.

Such is the high standard the club set in its first year of existence. As the Sounders move into year three, they will once again face the pressure of being considered one of the top teams in MLS. With multiple Designated Players, and packed houses at Qwest field to satisfy, Seattle will need to do more than win a third U.S. Open Cup to shake off the underachiever label.

Here is my Fox Soccer piece on the 2011 Sounders, who head into the season behind the likes of Real Salt Lake and Los Angeles, but who have the weapons to put together a title run.

Here are some more thoughts on the 2011 Seattle Sounders:


They'll win because: Fredy Montero finally puts together a complete season and the defense develops into one of the stingiest in MLS.

They'll lose because: Montero proves too inconsistent and Kasey Keller starts showing his age a bit too much.

Player who could break out: O'Brian White

Player who could regress: Kasey Keller

Player who needs to improve on 2010: Alvaro Fernandez

Newcomer to watch: Erik Friberg

Projected Finish: The Sounders have the weapons to finish in the top three in the West, but will need everything to break right to do much better. Keller needs to cut down on the mistakes, Montero needs to play at a high level all season and the combination of Parke and Hurtado needs to develop into one of the best centerback tandems in MLS. If all that happens, the Sounders could finally record a first-round playoff win and shake up things in the Western Conference playoffs. A championship may be just out of reach, but given the surprise title winners of recent years, Seattle could 


What do you think of the 2011 Sounders? See Seattle challenging Los Angeles and Real Salt Lake for top honors in the West? See the SOunders underachieving and falling short in the playoffs yet again?

Share your thoughts below.



  1. I am optimistic because there are several younger players that start who should develop quite a bit this year.

    Montero was mentioned above. If he continues to develop, he could be a serious problem for opposing defenses. Zakuani improved significantly last year, and hopefully he find a way to improve as much this year. It is possible that significant improvement by Zakuani won’t result in many more goals or assists, but he could become a more significant player game in and game out. Those are the big two, but others could develop into dominating players as well.

    There are a lot of players who are expected to start or contribute this year who are young and have a high developmental ceiling:

    Montero – 23
    Zakuani – 23
    Alonso – 25
    Fernandez – 25
    Friberg – 25
    Hurtado – 26

    If all of these guys continue to improve, I think we could end the year as the clear favorite to win MLS Cup.

  2. I’m confident that Brad Evans will get hurt enough (he already is questionable for the opener) to allow Friberg to start in the middle early in the season. Hopefully he takes advantage of the opportunity. Evans may make late runs into the box, but I don’t trust him to make good decisions with the ball.

  3. Yes, Rosales is The Trialist from a few preseason games. Sounds like he’ll become a Sounder soon, pending some paperwork.

  4. Difference being, of course, that Nyassi is a headless chicken. And I could count the number of times Seba rolled it straight to the goalkeeper in 09, but I’d run out of fingers.

  5. Of all posts by neutrals, this has to be the most accurate. Sounders can hope to finish ahead of LA and RSL but no other pundits have given us a chance.

    I agree that Fernandez is a key, he was inconsistent last year but that can be excused. He played in the World Cup, moved from South America, and became a father all in the span of 5 months. With a preseason under his belt I’m confident he’ll step up.

    Is Rosales the un-named player who kept making the stat sheet?

  6. Regretfully, I agree about Keller – I almost feel unamerican saying it though. He is of course a legend, but there were times last year when I didn’t feel confident with his performance. I’m hoping as much as anyone that he shows up and kills it this year so he can retire at the top.

    Once Parke and Hurtado get some games together and grow their understanding, I think the defense will do well. Although, Gonzalez still scares the daylights out of me at least once a game.

    It’s got to be hard to write an article about the Sounders without mentioning either Zakuani or Alonso. Alonso is awesome to watch, plain and simple – nice work by the FO to sign him on for longer. Zakuani is instant offense at any moment. However, when teams key in on the wings (LA in the playoffs last year), they can shut him down and he disappears from the game. We need to develop other consistent methods of attack to help him be dangerous for the length of the game.

    I like Evans, but from the little bit I’ve seen of Friberg so far, I think he needs to be in the lineup. He has good vision, spreads the ball well and runs all over the place. Give him a few games and I think he can have a big impact. Couple the new face of Friberg with a rested Nkufo, a settled Fernandez, and Alonso’s growing eye toward springing the offense and I’m optimistic about scoring goals this season.

    Can’t wait til kickoff!

  7. I agree with O’Brian White as a breakout players, NKufo is NOT the answer.

    I hope that Sigi sees it, he has a love for big slow guys. Keeping Jaqua over Nyassi and LeToux already showed that.

  8. I think your analysis is right one Ives; the Sounders have all the pieces and start the season as the 3rd best team in the West, but they are going to need some players to step it up and hope the two old men can bring it for one final year if they are going to win some silver; should be fun.

  9. Thanks for the info on Rosales, I still think that someone like Friberg is going to be more instrumental in our midfield. Just didn’t feel like the piece was as good as it could’ve been. Regardless, GO SOUNDERS!!!!!

  10. Agree 100%. I appreciate loyalty but if he’s serious about nobody’s starting job being sacred, there simply is no other choice than Friberg over Evans.

  11. Both Keller and our #2 keeper Boss made major mistakes in the Cascade Summit. I think anyone who wants to be honest and objective has to admit that there’s at least a chance that Keller has some struggles this season.

  12. Rosales was on trial at one point…I wonder if he has made the roster? Also, Riley is a decent player, but maybe a weak spot in the lineup…

  13. Who could regress: Keller. Maybe but I don’t see it. As long as he doesn’t go Brett Favre he’s calling this his last season. Good defense ahead of him, pride, and ‘one last run’-he’ll be as good as any MLS goalkeeper this season.

  14. Ives, I love soccerbyives but your article on Fox Soccer disappointed me. First off the Sounders didn’t have a pair of goal-less first round exits. They did score last year against LA. Second you talk about the importance of Mauro Rosales. I follow the Sounders pretty well and I have never heard of him. So I checked out the Sounders website thinking I had missed something but he is nowhere to be found on their roster. And finally, you misspelled Erik FribErg’s name several times. Spelled with an E not a U. I expected more from someone who covers soccer so much. I’ll still read and love soccerbyives but I wish you put a little more research into this article.

  15. Friberg is the key here….With Montero and Nkufo, the finishing will be fine if SSFC finds that playmaker they lost when they got rid of Llungberg.

  16. it seems to me that many of the problems from last year have been addressed. friberg is going to kill it in the midfield. the depth on the wings is what the sounders have needed for the past 2 years.
    back line is going to be solid.
    i do worry about finishing though, as usual.
    go sounders!

  17. If Park plays like he did last year it may just happen. The real key is the depth. The rave Green got better 12-30. Also, it Park or Huratado go down, Ianni can effectively as center back or center half. He proved that last season.


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