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Are Seattle and Dallas still poised for postseason success?

Zakuani (Getty Images)

Week 6 of the 2011 Major League Soccer season should have been remembered for Benny Feilhaber's debut in the league and the New York Red Bulls' and Los Angeles Galaxy's stars coming through.

Instead, it will go down as the week that Steve Zakuani and David Ferreira both suffered long-term injuries.

The Seattle Sounders and FC Dallas both figured to contend in the Western Conference this season, but replacing their star midfielders won't be a simple undertaking.

Will either team still make the postseason? Let's take a look at their personnel options in the aftermath of the two injuries:

Midfield depth is something that Seattle has, although it won't be able to replace the pace and creativity that Zakuani brought to the table. Between Alvaro Fernandez, Erik Friberg, Mauro Rosales, Brad Evans and Osvaldo Alonso, Sigi Schmid can still put out a formidable midfield, though it will be lacking Zakuani's game-breaking abilities.

As for FC Dallas, the defending MLS Cup runners up, the hole in central midfield is pretty sizable now. Barring a change in tactics, Eric Avila is one that could be leaned on to do a lot of the heavy lifting in Ferreira's absence. While he has shown that he's capable of scoring as a reserve, as evidenced by his game-winning goal against Real Salt Lake in the postseason last year and his game-winner against Vancouver on Saturday, he's yet to claim a starring role in his brief MLS career.

Do you think either Seattle or Dallas can still sustain postseason success despite their respective injured stars? Cast your vote here:


How did you vote?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I’m not knocking Dallas, I’m genuinely curious.

    It seemed like you guys had problems even before Ferriera went down. Cunningham and Dax left, Brek Shea in defense? To be fair I haven’t seen anything beyond highlights for you guys.

    Do you think your current squad can make it or will you need a summer signing or two?

  2. Yes, we will definitely fill that DP slot this summer. It will be interesting to see if we sign a play maker or a striker. We have a solid midfield overall but no game changer like Zak.

    Go Cougs

  3. Good question. We do have a DP slot available so I’d expect someone big to be added this summer. It’s interesting because Zak was playing well enough to earn a DP contract of his own.

    I’d like to know if MLS will give us extra cap money for losing a key player for the season.

  4. Both were on the bubble. Now they need to find replacements if they want to contend. Thank you uber-goons Mullen and Leathers

  5. Yeah, Zak’s speed will be missed, but the likes of people like Rosales, Friberg and Fenandez (all skill players that are busy with the ball at their feet and on defense) will make Seattle a multi dimensional team. While Seattle is a better team with Zakuani (there’s no doubt), especially later in the second half, Zakuani’s presence tends to stagnate the attack because, the way he plays, he needs to be isolated in a lot of space to operate. That pushes the rest of midfield toward the right, and so the only chances of playing through the midfield (as opposed to letting Zak run) are on the right. One side of the field is easier to defend than two.

    Basically a longwinded way to say, if any player was to go down, Sounders probably have the most depth at LM (Tetteh, Fernandez, Rosales, Evans, Friberg, MontaƱo and Estrada can all play there).

  6. I’m optimistic the Sounders will move to a different formation. Utilize the bench… I sure hope so…

    YO! Sigi, break out of your norm and take your gameday to the next level..

  7. FCD is what I know – so I will comment on them. There is no doubt that ‘replacing David’ is not likely. However, Sensei Schellas (aka 2010 Coach of the Year) is still the coach, and the team all play for one another.

    It is not only possible, but very likely, that FCD will rise to this challenge and ‘buscar la forma’ (find a way) to win. But it will be done much differently than it would have if David were still able to play right now.

    Many have suggested that the formation will change from the 4-1-4-1 employed as a result of David’s strengths, to a more traditional 4-4-2. Only time will tell.

    Meanwhile, you can be sure that the search for and evaluation of potential new talent continues for FCD.

  8. Yeah, but would you rather pull from your midfield, or have Keller out and pull from your GKs? That’s what the OP was saying, so I brought up that point. I’ve only seen a few games from Boss, he did well in USOC from what I’ve heard.

  9. Its linear thought, you can do it.

    protecting the skilled/showcase players consistently

    upping the terrible quality/inconsistent nature of the refereeing as a whole

  10. In recent comments to the press coach Sigi indicated they don’t have the cap space to bring in a big replacement. Luckily, the Sounders have lots of great options for left/right midfield. Steve’s injury is a big loss, but not a season destroying loss.

    My guess is Fernandez and Rosales will start the next few games on the wings. A little less speed on the wings, but that will be compensated with a better defensive presence.

  11. When Keller is on, he’s the best in the league. That’s not so say we haven’t seen him let in some questionable goals over the last year. I’m sure you’d like Boss a little more if you saw more out of him with the first team.

  12. This whole argument is confusing. So, you’re arguing for inconsistent treatment of better “Jordan-type” players by MLS. And at the same time complaining about inconsistent refereeing. Or are you saying that MLS referees are already inconsistent so let’s make it “officially” inconsistent for our star players? Whatever, I think hypocrisy is humorous so you got a laugh out of me.

    The official for the match in Colorado did a his job by making the right call and issuing the correct punishment. What else could he do? The question is what punishment CAN BE applied under current MLS disciplinary rules. The red card was issued on the field, so what further actions can be taken? But instead, it’s a crappy online poll showing which team is more popular.

  13. Well, both teams lost critical players. But it’s worse than that:
    –the West is strong this year. FCD and Seattle have to hope that….Portland and Vancouver don’t get any better this year….and Colorado emplodes, demonstrating last year was a fluke. Otherwise, it’s just too tough to lose players like that in such a difficult division/conference.
    –FCD has non-league commitments and they lost a bunch of players before the season started that they didn’t replace. One of the things that really stood out for me back when DCU was a supporter’s shield winner was that the additional games added to the schedule (in stuff like SuperLiga, Champions League, etc.) meant that you’d sometimes be playing 15-18 games more than some of the other teams in MLS. And then you subtract depth and a starter or two…and it doesn’t mean a really good team becomes a really bad team, only that you’ve subtracted from a really good team and added to the challenges they face (having to play more games than some of their competition).

  14. I agree with this.

    Ferreira is Dallas.

    Zakuani is not going to be replaced on speed, but perhaps the Sounders will get a little more defensive cover from the wing with Friberg or Fernandez out there. Still, O’Brian White has to start scoring.

  15. Those are really devastating injuries. I wish both teams well unless they’re playing RSL.

    They’re both solid enough to make the playoffs but they’re not contenders…and the weakness in the middle/bottom of the East will probably give the West another extra spot this year.

  16. Keller? Terry Boss isn’t quite to that class, SSFC’s midfield is pretty good. He’s a big loss, but Keller is huge in the net.

  17. Not so – @k’s original post was correct. Here’s a quote from Sigi — “We really can’t because we’re up against the cap and you don’t get any cap relief when you get an injury like that, which is something I think the league needs to look at too.”

  18. Well since you and JJ are the experts, why don’t you let me know exactly how much cap space we have? Sigi himself VERY recently, like as in yesterday, said that they were up against the cap and couldn’t really add anyone. See below smart guy:

    “We really can’t because we’re up against the cap and you don’t get any cap relief when you get an injury like that, which is something I think the league needs to look at too.”

  19. After a few years warming up to the league and getting a better feel for each team week to week, as opposed to only following the European game, I am real bummed as a fan . . . MLS should, in the Zakuani case, set a precedent as far as discipline goes. Its a lot better to have people complain about the better players getting the “Jordan” treatment so to speak and have them on the field, than the present situation. Especially given the embarrassing and almost dangerously bad level of officiating on a game to game, week to week basis.

    Ask these guys what the hardest thing is to handle, in terms of officiating and its probably inconsistency, which is the only non 4 letter word that can be used to describe the current state of affairs

  20. Noonan was signed for next to nothing, a pro-rated 3 month contract. Rosales was going to be signed regardless of Nkufo leaving (per Adrian Hanauer). So no, you’re wrong.

  21. The Zakuani hit takes Sounders from a deep post-season run to likely one-and-done. Seattle has the midfield depth to put starting level talent on the field in his place, but none bring the same complete package Zakuani did.

    Without Ferreria I can’t see Dallas doing much more than a mid-table finish, *maybe* squeezing into the playoffs. I just don’t see anyone on their roster being able to replace him. Anyone know what their cap situation is? Will they be able to sign someone in the summer window to alleviate their pain?

  22. You guys are all wrong about the cap, except k. Signing Rosales and Noonan ate up what little cap space N’kufo left us.

  23. Yeah, you’re wrong. Nkufo left us with some cash.

    I think we’ll be fine and find a way to click. We have Friberg, Evans, Fernandez, Fucito, and to a lesser extent Montano, Levesque, Neagle, Tetteh to fill in. Zakuani has been the most consistantly growing force on our squad and will be impossible to replace. But, we are deep in midfield and I put my money of Fucito stepping up and continuing his growth from a year ago.

  24. This is definitely not true. Seattle was tight on cap prior to N’Kufo being released, and definitely has some room to play without his DP cap hit. Wouldn’t have been surprised to see a summer splash as it was, definitely expect to see something from Sounder FO now.

  25. Seattle has no cap space and will not be able to add anyone so those players listed by Ives will need to step up if Seattle is still going to make the playoffs. I think they can do it but it will be by the narrowest of margins.

  26. Not sure either contends for the title but I think both will still make the playoffs. Ferreira is special in that his role changes the formation Dallas plays. With out him FCD will switch back to a 4-4-2 which should help their forwards team up.

    For Seattle it is a straight replacement so I think while the speed and skill may drop the big change will be learning to play through different players. That should be an easier transition for Seattle.

  27. What are the cap situations of the two teams? Seattle dropped Nkufo’s salary right before the start of the season and might be able to bring someone in over the summer, either in midfield or at forward so that Sigi can move the other midfield pieces around. Seattle also has some quality in the reserves, such as Michael Fucito, which might help ease the transition a bit.

    I’m less familiar with FC Dallas’ cap situation. Any FCD fans want to fill in the gaps here? Will they fill in with youth?

  28. I wouldn’t want to wish it on anybody, but Zakuani is the last person I’d want out for the season on the Sounders. His ability to make plays and space out of seemingly nothing at all will be a huge void on the field. They may still be able to make a run, but his absence will be felt no question.

  29. you know the offending players will probably not be played when the rematches occur at the opposite team’s homefield….so this is where Dallas & Seattle can join forces. Seattle can “take care” of Leathers and Dallas can handle Mullan if he returns in time.


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