Seattle Sounders 2016 Season Review

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From Last Word on Soccer, by Joe Hojnacki

The Seattle Sounders experienced a roller coaster of a season. They had the highest of preseason expectations that got thrown out the window early on with a horrible start. In the middle of summer, they fired Sigi Schmid, brought on Brian Schmetzer to replace him, and signed Uruguayan international Nicolas Lodeiro to save the team.

Seattle Sounders 2016 Season Review

Once Schmetzer took over and Lodeiro arrived, the lofty preseason expectations slowly crept back into reality. The Sounders were winning games regularly. They were scoring goals again. Their star academy product, Jordan Morris, quickly matured into the Rookie of the Year. All of that led to them lifting the ultimate prize at the end of the season, the MLS Cup.

What Went Right

Pretty much everything after the end of July went well for the Sounders. That was when the coaching change went down and Lodeiro arrived as their Uruguayan savior. A 1-1 draw against LA Galaxy was the first game Lodeiro started and the first game in which Schmetzer took charge. After that draw, the Sounders ripped off three straight wins and eventually climbed into the playoffs.

Lodeiro and Schmetzer did not save the team all by themselves. Jordan Morris was a major influence on the team’s turnaround. Towards the end of summer, it appeared he was adjusted to the professional lifestyle. Seven of Morris’s 14 goals in his rookie season, including playoffs, came after July 31. He ended up winning the Rookie of the Year award by a landslide.

We cannot talk about what went well for the Sounders without mentioning their unheralded hero, Osvaldo Alonso. While not racking up the goal scoring numbers and without tallying up the assists, Alonso was quietly Seattle’s best player. He was one of the league’s top passers with a success rate above 90% on the year. He was a midfield fulcrum that was also an animal on defense. It’s conceivable to think that the Sounders score less and concede more without Alonso in the team.

What Went Wrong

Pretty much everything before July 31 went wrong for Seattle. The team was not scoring goals, meaning they weren’t winning games. There were times when they struggled to get any shots out. Their low point was Sigi Schmid’s final game as manager. In that game, they only managed one horribly wayward shot attempt and it came in the 88th minute.

That one match was a microcosm of Seattle’s entire year up to that point. They were disorganized. They were undisciplined. They had no punch going forward. It seemed they were truly missing Obafemi Martins as a valid goal scoring option up front. It’s also possible that his presence wouldn’t have mattered anyway since nobody could get the ball forward to the strikers.

Thankfully, everything changed at the end of July when the coaching change and transfer action kicked in.

Although it didn’t have a great effect on the season, it was a shame to see Clint Dempsey miss much of the successful part of the season thanks to a heart condition. It was most unfortunate that the player most synonymous with the Seattle Sounder was unable to contribute to their most triumphant accomplishment. Here’s hoping the American soccer icon can make a healthy return for next season.

Offseason Plan

The Sounders do have some work to do in the offseason. They will need to shore up a midfield that really struggled early in the year. It wasn’t until Lodeiro came to provide reinforcements that they finally started to move the ball forward with some reliability. A solid midfield partner would be an excellent addition to their side. Declined options on Andreas Ivanschitz and Erik Friberg make central midfield an even bigger concern.

They may need some help at right back as well since they declined the option on MLS Cup starter Tyrone Mears.

They are pretty solid up front, even if Dempsey cannot make a return. They will still have Lodeiro and Morris. A little extra help getting the two of them the ball would be a nice addition.

The rest of the Sounders moves should be concerned with adding depth to a team that could be derailed by injuries at every position. If one of their central defenders were to go down, they don’t have much of a replacement. Same goes for the forwards, especially if Dempsey remains in limbo.