Roldan brothers outshine Dempsey, Eikrem as Schmetzer makes lineup changes

The starting lineup for Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday likely had many fans scratching their heads before they took on Minnesota United FC. Both Clint Dempsey and Magnus Wolff Eikrem started on the bench while 2018 second-round draft pick Alex Roldan got his second-straight start. The decision made coach Brian Schmetzer look more tactical genius than perhaps expected as Roldan brought energy to a side desperate for an attacking jolt. Once Dempsey subbed on for Roldan in the 60th minute, a resulting drop in energy allowed Minnesota back into the match as they pulled a goal back on 66 minutes and created problems for Seattle’s defense as they tried to close out the match.

With Alex Roldan on the left wing and his brother Cristian in the center of the field, Seattle have two players who are very active both offensively and defensively. They make the game difficult for defences and midfields because they are able to constantly pressure the ball and force opponents into mistakes.

When Dempsey entered the match for the younger Roldan brother, it pushed Cristian out wide where he is less effective. It pinned him to one side of the field and kept him from being able to cover space in the center. Dempsey at 35 years of age doesn’t range back on defense like the Roldan’s do and is seemingly incapable of pressuring opponents when trying to regain possession.

This problem was further exacerbated when Eikrem was brought on for Alonso as Roldan dropped from the wing back into defensive midfield next to Svensson as Eikrem slotted into the left wing. Eikrem is most effective when he has the ball at his feet and can distribute in any direction which is why traditionally he plays in the center of the field. When on the wings, he looks out of place and also doesn’t defend as actively as needed from that position. Such was the case on Sunday.

Don’t miss: In pictures: Alonso and Roldan brothers lead Seattle to 3-1 win over Minnesota

Leaving Dempsey and Eikrem on the bench for Seattle means leaving a Designated Player and a Targeted Allocation Money signing out of the starting 11 which creates a financial issue for the Sounders. With only 4 points from their first five games, Sounders are in need of results now and continuing to start the Roldan brothers over more expensive counterparts could be the immediate – if only short term – solution the club needs.

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In pictures: Seattle Sounders 4-0 Santa Tecla – Sounders cruise into CCL quarterfinals

Seattle Sounders 4-0 Santa Tecla – Seattle overturned their 2-1 first-leg defeat in emphatic style as they put four goals past El Salvador’s Santa Tecla to advance to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.

The Sounders knew they had to break down a solid Santa Tecla defence to have any chance of progressing but they went into halftime with the score at 0-0. Brian Schmetzer made a tactical switch to a 4-4-2 diamond formation for the second minutes, and it paid dividends almost immediately.

Will Bruin opened the scoring in the 47th minute, before Nicolas Lodeiro put the hosts in the driving seat on 69 minutes. Lodeiro – who assisted Bruin’s goal – then set up Chad Marshall off a set piece in the 81st minute to make it 3-0.

Winter signing Magnus Wolff Eikrem made his debut on Thursday night, coming on for the start of the second-half. He made an immediate impact, impressing with his passing and off the ball movement. He capped off a fine debut by scoring the final goal in the 83rd minute.

The Sounders will now face Liga MX side CD Guadalajara in the quarterfinals, starting with the home leg next Wednesday.

Check out exclusive photos from Seattle’s win over Santa Tecla on Thursday night, courtesy of MLSGB photographers Denise McCooey and Paul Kahl.

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2018 Key Transfers: Seattle Sounders FC

With the 2018 MLS season just a few days away now, we have been running through the standout transfers for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at Seattle Sounders and their key signings and departures ahead of the 2018 MLS season…

Seattle Sounders FC look to return to MLS Cup for a third straight year in 2018 after falling short in the final to Toronto FC. With CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) matches on the schedule for Seattle this season, coach Brian Schmetzer has spent this offseason adding depth to his side instead of focusing on bringing big name targets to the club. Veterans Clint Dempsey and Nicolas Lodeiro are still set to lead the attack, with both eager to bring a second championship to the Emerald City and their supporters. The added depth should allow Seattle to maintain their fitness this year as they look to secure both domestic and international hardware in 2018. The potential loss of Jordan Morris for the season poses a major concern though, if reports about the severity of his knee injury prove to be true.

Key Signings

Waylon Francis: The veteran defender comes to Seattle via trade from Columbus to help add depth at left-back alongside 20-year-old Nouhou after Joevin Jones left for Darmstadt in the winter window (more on him later). He and Nouhou will be competing against each other for minutes this year, something that Schmetzer hopes will push both players to improve throughout the season. Francis has performed well in preseason and picked up Schmetzer’s system quickly as he looks to log serious minutes in Rave Green this year.

Magnus Wolff Eikrem: The Norwegian midfielder was signed on a free transfer from Malmo FF and has already shown his ability to mesh well with Clint Dempsey in preseason, helping to set up goals with quick passes and skilled ball control in traffic. While the Sounders do have a good amount of depth in the midfield already, with the extra CCL matches on the schedule in 2018, Eikrem will give Schmetzer more options and more ability to rotate players for rest. Expect Eikrem to play in an attacking midfield position with the Sounders as well as some appearances as a wing midfielder as needed.

Handwalla Bwana: Seattle’s newest Homegrown Player signing has already impressed this preseason and with the busy schedule this year it’s likely he’ll find first team minutes at some point. Bwana will be trying to replicate Nouhou’s rookie season as he made the most of his rookie contract, playing crucial minutes in the playoffs and setting himself up to be the frontrunner for the left-back position this year. Bwana will have a lot more competition in midfield though and will have to have some stellar performances to steal starts from more veteran players.

Notable Departures

Joevin Jones: Jones’s transfer to Darmstadt was no surprise as the arrangements had been made the previous summer. Much of the late-season drama around Jones stemmed from his desire to leave for Germany in the summer and Seattle’s desire to keep him for the playoffs. Jones grew into a very dangerous attacker from a left-back position and his absence will definitely be felt but with the signing of Francis and growth of Nouhou, Seattle should be able to replace his impact this season.

Brad Evans: The former Sounders captain struggled through injury last season and has gone through constant uncertainty the last few years as he’s been moved from right-mid to right-back to centre-back while Seattle has made numerous signings in those same positions. Evans’s contract ran up this offseason and he exercised his options in free agency to sign with Sporting Kansas City. His departure has already saddened fans and teammates alike as many have taken to Twitter to express their disappointment while wishing him the best including Chad Marshall and yours truly. Truthfully Evans would have found it difficult to get minutes in this roster as deep as it is right now and the move to KC was the best decision for his career

Radio Cascadia Episode 140: A busy week in Portland and is Kei Kamara ready to lead the Whitecaps?

MLSGB has joined up with the Radio Cascadia podcast for the 2018 season, giving our readers the chance to catch up on all the latest news from the Pacific Northwest, where MLS clubs Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps look to continue to dominate the Western Conference. 

Radio Cascadia is a weekly podcast and is an authoritative steward of the Cascadian perspective, representing the most passionate, unified and unique fan bases in the country. Their passion is well justified, not only by the clubs’ nearly fifty years of shared history but also thanks to rampant success in the MLS era. Since 2011 (the first year all three clubs had made the switch over to the top flight from the USL), Cascadian MLS sides have won a combined total of five major trophies. Additional honours in that time frame include two CONCACAF Champions League semifinal appearances, three consecutive MLS Cup berths, and six consecutive Western Conference Championship appearances.

The latter two statistics above are active streaks, and clubs in Cascadia have just over a month of preseason left to prepare for their chance to continue these streaks on the stage of the 2018 MLS campaign.

In this week’s episode, host Jackson Felts of Seattle’s Sports Radio 950 KJR is joined by Sounders 2 announcer Andrew Harvey, MLSsoccer.com’s Ari Liljenwall and Radio Cascadia founder Steven Agen as they dissect the busiest week of 2018 so far. Five new players have joined Cascadian rosters since the last release, and there’s even a first preseason match to review!

Michael McColl of AFTN.ca calls in to give his take on the leadership situation in the Whitecaps’ locker room, and the extent to which Kei Kamara can fill the void. We spotlight Vancouver’s other new striker as well; Venezuelan Anthony Blondell as he looks poised for a breakout season. A group analysis of Whitecaps boss Carl Robinson’s ambitions for the season closes out the segment.

Matt Hoffman of Stumptown Footy reveals his favourite Timbers kit design as they released their new away strip for 2018 this week. The group pays due respect to the sweet gold accents on the new shirt, but most of the segment is devoted to analysis of the four new signings by the club in the span of only a few days.

Sounders have finally made a splash with their brand new chunk of discretionary Targeted Allocation Money, bringing in versatile Norwegian midfielder Magnus Eikrom on a free transfer. The news broke just in time for the group to develop opinions on where he’ll fit in Seattle’s attacking scheme in 2018. Elsewhere in the segment, Andrew Harvey gives his scouting report on new Homegrown Player Handwalla Bwana, who recorded a goal and an assist in Sounders’ preseason victory over Club Tijuana’s U-20 side on Sunday.

Find the latest RC show every Tuesday at radiocascadia.libsyn.com and follow the guys on Twitter @Radio_Cascadia.

Episode 140 Playlist:

00:00 – Introduction: Miami MLS expansion, Crew update

07:45 – Vancouver Whitecaps: Robbo’s ambition, Kei Kamara’s leadership, Anthony Blondell’s journey

27:45 – Portland Timbers: Four new faces, away kit revealed, 2018 Captain picks

47:05 – Seattle Sounders: First look at new TAM midfielder Magnus Wolff Eikrem, Bwana stars in 3-1 preseason win