Seattle Sounders 2019 offseason recap

Seattle Sounders FC officially opened their preseason on Tuesday with famously overcast Seattle weather and the songs and cheers of the Emerald City Supporters. Contrary to the precedent set in previous seasons, there was a noticeable lack of veteran trialists but instead a large number of academy players joining the first team training session as Seattle’s focus seems to point towards developing up-and-coming talent.

Sounders spent Tuesday and Wednesday in Seattle before heading to Orange County, California from Jan. 24th to Feb. 2nd and will then return to Tucson, Arizona from Feb. 6th through 16th.

While new signings have been scarce this offseason, there were plenty of talking points over the winter holiday to discuss.

Jordan Morris signs new TAM level contract

While the nature of MLS contracts means we still don’t know the exact terms of the contract, Paul Tenorio of The Athletic reported that the Homegrown Player signed a contract that guarantees him to be under contract with Sounders for the next three years and two option years after that. Should he stay for all five of those years he’ll make around $1 million a year playing for his hometown club.

Morris missed the entire regular season in 2018 after tearing his ACL against Santa Tecla in the opening match of the CONCACAF Champions League. Morris was seen working with the team in training late last year and plans to be a full participant this preseason.

Cristian Roldan called into USMNT winter camp

New United States Men’s Team head coach Gregg Berhalter’s first training camp saw MLS players exclusively called in, allowing the international players in the middle of their season to focus on their clubs.

The sole representative for Sounders, Roldan will have two matches to prove his worth to the new coach after a camp that began on Jan. 7th. The USMNT is scheduled to face Panama in Glendale, Arizona on Jan. 27th followed by Costa Rica in San Jose, California on Feb. 2nd.

Reports of a new contract for Roldan were also confirmed by Garth Lagerwey on Tuesday as he told reporters that the midfielder signed a multi-year contract with the club and that he as well as Morris plan to figure heavily into the club’s future plans.

Sigi Schmid passes away

The first head coach in the club’s MLS era tragically passed away on Christmas Day at the age of 65. Schmid had been admitted to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center weeks before according to Q13 Fox where he was awaiting a heart transplant.

Schmid is the all-time winningest coach in MLS history having also coached the Los Angeles Galaxy for two stints as well as the Columbus Crew. Schmidt won two MLS Cup titles, three Supporters’ Shields, five Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cups and three NCAA National Championships while at UCLA.

Schmid’s tenure with Seattle saw the expansion franchise become an instant success as Sounders still have yet to miss the playoffs in their 10 years in the league and have the league’s best combined record since joining for the 2009 season.

Former captain Osvaldo Alonso signed by Minnesota United in free agency

After 10 years with Sounders, the club leader in appearances, starts and minutes signed with the Loons this offseason after his contract expired. Alonso was the last member of the original MLS roster to leave the team or retire and his 339 appearances across all competitions for Seattle leave him second in club history dating back to 1974 just 13 behind Zach Scott.

“We have seen many great players that have played for our club, but none have had as much influence as Osvaldo Alonso” said coach Brian Schmetzer. “His drive and determination to win was evident from the first day of training, his first game, and continued throughout all of the successful years he had with Sounders FC. I feel fortunate to have been able to coach such a tremendous player. We watched his game evolve, his influence grow to where he eventually led us as captain to our first MLS Cup. I want to personally thank him for his play for the last 10 years. We will miss ‘El Corazon.'”

Nico Lodeiro to Boca Juniors rumors prove false

Reports had been swirling all offseason of a possible return to Boca Juniors for Lodeiro who had previously played for the Argentinian club before his transfer to Seattle. While Lodeiro has on several occasions expressed his love for Boca and stated his willingness to return, the Uruguayan playmaker is committed to Seattle and will remain with the club this season.

Lodeiro has been with Seattle since the summer of 2016 when he helped turn the Sounders’ season around and led the club to their first MLS Cup triumph.

Goalkeeper Trey Muse signed to Homegrown Player contract

The most notable signing to date this offseason for Seattle, Indiana University ‘keeper Trey Muse became the 11th Homegrown Player signing in club history. In two seasons with the Hoosiers, Muse started all 49 of his appearances as Indiana finished runner-up to national champions Stanford in 2017 and were knocked out of the semifinals in 2018. Muse was also named First Team All-America by the United Soccer Coaches, Top Drawer Soccer and College Soccer News in 2018 as a Sophomore with a 20-3-1 record.

As a Seattle Homegrown Player Muse joins the likes of first team players Jordan Morris, Handwalla Bwana, and Henry Wingo as well as Newcastle United defender and original Homegrown Player signing DeAndre Yedlin.

Tucker Bone, Joel Rydstrand and Aleks Berkolds selected in MLS SuperDraft

With three picks in the 2019 SuperDraft, Seattle selected Air Force Academy midfielder Tucker Bone with the 20th pick, Creighton defender Joel Rydstrand with the 44th pick, and San Diego State defender Aleks Berkolds with the 68th pick.

All three players have yet to sign contracts with the club and according to Lagerwey, Bone will graduate from Air Force Academy before joining the team full-time although he was a participant in the club’s first training on Tuesday. Once he does graduate the club will also seek a deferment of service to allow Bone to play with the club before becoming an Air Force officer, a process the club is currently working on.

Zulily announced as new jersey sponsor

With the club’s original sponsor, Xbox, ending their jersey and pitch sponsorship after the 2018 season, Sounders announced that online retailer Zulily will become the new kit sponsor in a partnership with National Women’s Soccer League club Seattle Reign that will see the brand on the front of both clubs’ jerseys going forward.

While the exact terms of the sponsorship have not been released, owner Adrian Hanauer said during the press conference that it is “a long-term partnership” and that “the resources are more resources than we were previously generating.” Unlike the sponsorship from Xbox that included pitch naming rights, Zulily is only sponsoring the club’s jerseys and training apparel as Sounders have yet to announce a pitch sponsor or a sleeve sponsor which should bring even more investment to the club.

Zulily was founded in 2010 and is a local company headquartered in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood. Started as a small online retailer with a focus on products for moms with children, Zulily has since expanded to $2 billion retailer with products for both men and women. Their investment in both the Reign and Sounders marks the first time both Seattle clubs have shared a presenting sponsor and is also an investment into the local community with Zulily and Sounders matching $26,000 in funds raised towards Strong Against Cancer.


Same old defensive issues for NYCFC despite opening day Chicago win

The opening day of the 2016 MLS regular season has provided us with exactly what we expected so far – non-stop drama and goals in abundance. New York City beat Chicago Fire 4-3 on Sunday but are defensive issues going to haunt NYCFC again this year? Lewis Addley explores…

Patrick Vieira would have been a relieved man to hear the final whistle in his first regular season game as New York City FC head coach after watching his side beat Chicago Fire 4-3 on Sunday evening.

The game was completely rammed with action, and served as the perfect game for the neutral, but maybe not so much for the Chicago or New York City fans.

Video: Match highlights of NYCFC’s 4-3 win at Chicago (via Chicago Fire on YouTube):

Defensive issues were apparent throughout for NYCFC, despite winning the game. They struggled to deal with the lively David Accam throughout and will be concerned with the way Chicago equalised in the first half. Alarm bells would have been ringing for Vieira straight away.

A poor attempt of playing the offside trap allowed Razvan Cocis the opportunity to level – one he took very calmly.

Lapsed defending throughout, poor back-passes and cross-box passes had NYCFC ‘keeper Josh Saunders screaming at his defence on numerous occasions. But for some wonderful saves and a little bit of luck this may have been a very different outcome and NYCFC have Saunders to thank for the three points on opening weekend.

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Chicago had at least three solid shouts for penalties and were eventually given one, which Accam slotted in with confidence late on. But it was too little too late for the hosts, who will be hugely disappointed with the outcome of the game

Last season NYCFC conceded the joint-highest amount of goals across both conferences (58) and their defensive display against Chicago seemed all too familiar, despite Vieira’s arrival.

Although it was an exhilarating attacking performance, it seems unlikely that NYCFC will be able to sustain the approach of outscoring opponents all season in shootout-type matches.

It is now the seventh time NYCFC have conceded three or more goals in one game in their short MLS lifetime – averaging that not so favourable feat once in every five outings.

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It is also only the second time they have won a game when conceding three or more – the other occasion being last season’s 5-3 win over Orlando City.

One thing is for certain, they will have to tighten up at the back if they are to make the playoffs in 2016. Admittedly it is only their first game of the season so there is plenty of time to improve and let’s not forget they have picked up three points here.

But addressing some rather blatant defensive issues will be the key for Patrick Vieira and his team on Monday morning. There are more dangerous teams than Chicago across MLS and NYCFC can’t afford to perform poorly at the back each week.

Will the NYCFC defence cause problems for Vieira over the course of the season? 

MLS Week 14 Recap: Few goals but records broken in surprise round

International breaks always affect Major League Soccer, increasingly so with the amount of international quality players now a part of the league.

But regardless of key absentees, MLS teams had to take to the field, at least once, in what was a surprising round of fixtures.

Six teams played twice in Week 14, with three games taking place on Wednesday night before a full weekend schedule.

There were 34 goals over the 13 games – an average of 2.6 per game, which is more than the season average per game up to this point, and here are the main points to take from Week 14’s action:

1. We need more goals!

Sunday night saw the 14th and 15th 0-0 draws of the season as back-to-back games ended without a ball in the back of the net.’s Matthew Doyle eludes to the fact that it took until Week 31 to see the 15th goalless draw of the 2014 season and we’re on track to beat the record total of 0-0 games (27) by the end of the campaign.

2. LA Galaxy’s fortress falls

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The Vancouver Whitecaps ended LA Galaxy’s 29-game unbeaten streak at home in all competitions on Saturday night in their 1-0 win over last season’s MLS Cup champions. The Galaxy had not lost in 23 MLS regular season games prior to kickoff but their indifferent start to 2015 saw them fail to produce enough quality as they were beaten by the Whitecaps for the second time this year.

3. Portland are getting it done

The Portland Timbers won their third game in 11 days on Saturday night as they saw off New England Revolution 2-0 thanks to a Fanendo Adi brace. The victory moves them up to fourth in the Western Conference and marks the first time in franchise history that they’ve managed to record three straight MLS wins.

4. Montreal marching on

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Montreal Impact won their fourth game of the season on Saturday night in that impress 2-1 victory at Columbus Crew in what was their second 2-1 win in four days after they beat Vancouver on Wednesday. Frank Klopas has really turned things around in recent weeks as the Impact have won four of their last five to move within two points of a playoff spot with as many as six games in hand over conference leaders DC United. It took until Week 23 for the Impact to win their fourth game in 2014, so things are starting to look real good.

5. NYCFC finally return home with three points

New York City FC picked up their first ever road win in MLS on Saturday night in their 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union. The result ended a run of 11 games without a win and sees the expansion franchise return to Yankee Stadium in good spirits for the first time this season. They face Eastern Conference opposition in their next 11 games so it’s time to start racking up the victories.

2014 MLS Season Review: Chicago Fire

Eastern Conference Final Position: 9th


Chicago Fire had a difficult start to the season, having to wait until their ninth game for a win. Their tough opening was unfortunate and indicated what was to come for the rest of the regular season. The Fire only managed back-to-back wins on one occasion and narrowly escaped finishing at the foot of the table.

Best Moment

Doing the double over New York Red Bulls – one of which was a nine-goal thriller, ending 5-4. After leading the game early on, they then fell 2-1 behind. They showed resilience and power to score four without reply to lead 5-2. There was late drama from the record leveller, Bradley Wright Phillips, making the score 5-4. The Fire managed a last ten minute shut out in one of the most exhilarating games of the season.

Worst Moment

Their eight-game winless run at the beginning almost determined their fate and made it extremely difficult to push on for the rest of the season.

Player of the Year

Jeff Larentowicz. The midfielder is someone Fire need to build around as he was one of a few solid players and the joint top appearance maker. Larentowicz was also joint second top goalscorer.

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Biggest Win

New York Red Bulls 4-5 Chicago Fire (May 11 2014).

All six of Fire’s wins were only by the single goal. With that in mind, it’s worth assessing the biggest win in terms of the performance.

Biggest Defeat

San Jose Earthquakes 5-1 Chicago Fire (July 24 2014)

What to improve for the 2015 season…

Turning draws into wins is a must for Chicago. Their inability to win games evidently cost them any chance of pushing for the playoffs. Their staggering 18 draws was the highest out of both conferences, but Fire must take a positive that they managed to avoid defeat in 24 of their 34 games. In comparison, Seattle Sounders were another side who lost ten games, proving the difference and importance of winning. They have to build on some solid performances in the season and beating a handful of the top five.