Seattle Sounders: How to improve the attack for the 2018 season

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 21: Will Bruin /

With preseason just around the corner, who will find themselves starting up top for the Seattle Sounders?

The Seattle Sounders saw another successful season in 2017, finishing second in the Western Conference and making their second consecutive appearance in MLS Cup. Even though the Sounders scored the third most goals in the West during the regular season (52), most Rave Green fans find themselves asking who will be starting up top for the 2018 season.

Seattle has three realistic options to revamp their attack before the season kicks off against LAFC on March 4th:

Start Jordan Morris Up Top

SEATTLE, WA – NOVEMBER 22: Jordan Morris
SEATTLE, WA – NOVEMBER 22: Jordan Morris /

Even though Will Bruin had an incredible first season with the Sounders, it is fair to say that we can’t expect him to repeat his eleven goal and two assist season. The 28-year-old will play an important role for the Sounders, but to be brutally honest if the Sounders want to make another MLS Cup run, they need to find another option than Bruin up top. One of those is Jordan Morris.

He was the 2016 Rookie of the Year, scoring twelve goals and picking up four assists, helping the Seattle Sounders claim their first MLS Cup in franchise history. But Morris struggled in 2017. He was mostly deployed on the left wing but with injuries and international call-ups, Jordan only scored three goals and showed visible signs of frustration with himself throughout the year.

In a recent interview, Seattle Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said he would like to see Morris challenging Bruin for the starting striker role in what has become Seattle’s regular 4-2-3-1. In 2016 we saw how lethal Morris can be as the lone striker. If Morris can gain his confidence back and stay healthy, Morris could easily score double-digit goals again and keep Seattle’s attack consistently dangerous with his ability to get in behind.

Head to the Transfer Market

If Jordan Morris can’t replicate his 2016 heroics or Schmetzer sees him more effective on the wing, it would be time for the Sounders to look for someone else to put on the Rave Green jersey. To be a contender for MLS Cup and especially the Supporters’ Shield, you need to have a striker that can score at least sixteen goals during the regular season.

Seattle hasn’t had a striker do that since Obafemi Martins. If Seattle’s front office can find a world class striker (DP level) to come in score goals for fun throughout the season, matching that with a strong defense that only let in ten goals in the final seventeen games of the 2017 season (including playoffs), and you have a team that can challenge for any trophy.

Obviously, this is much easier said than done. It is hard to find a striker who can fit into a system perfectly, perform in their first season in MLS, and is motivated to play in the MLS. But with a front office that can sign the likes Lodeiro, Rodriguez, and Torres, fans should expect great things.

Play Morris and Bruin Together

In the same interview as referenced above, Schmetzer said that the team is looking into a secondary formation, hinting at that being a 4-4-2 with Bruin and Morris playing together up top. Seattle hasn’t played an out and out 4-4-2 since 2014, with Dempsey and Martins starting together in the Supporters’ Shield and Open Cup winning season. Though it would be the same set up on paper, Morris and Bruin would act in different roles than Martins and Dempsey did.

There weren’t many positives to take away from Seattle’s 2-0 MLS Cup loss to Toronto, but one thing that did stick out was Bruin’s ability to hold up the ball against Toronto’s backline. Though Seattle couldn’t create much from Bruin’s exceptional hold-up play, if Morris starts alongside Bruin up top in 2018 Bruin’s hold-up play could easily spring Morris in behind opposing backlines, similar to Victor Rodriguez’ goal against Houston in the second leg of the Western Conference Final.

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The Sounders have a few different options for who to play as striker heading into 2018. Though starting Jordan Morris alone up top seems to be the most obvious choice, the Seattle Sounders must be prepared to either spend the money to score goals or start tinkering with the starting formation.