Seattle Sounders FC: Re-tooling to win the next MLS Cup

Seattle Sounders (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Seattle Sounders (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

Instead, what’s necessary is a retool to drive Seattle Sounders to the final game and seal a win. What the Sounders have done in the past half-decade has taken them to four MLS Cup matches. They won the cup in 2016 and 2019.

So that’s why Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey said, despite some key personnel losses this off-season, there isn’t any call for a full rebuild. He assured media representatives that the Sounders would contend in every way in 2021. The plan remains to retool with what the team has in place right now.

The team loaned out forward Jordan Morris, who heads to Swansea City. After 13 years, Sounders sporting director Chris Henderson moves to Inter Miami CF. Yet the team still has solid starters from the attacking third of the pitch all the way back to the goal. That includes defender Yeimar Gomez Andrade, midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro, midfielder Joao Paulo, midfielder Cristian Roldan, forward Raul Ruidiaz, and goalkeeper Stefan Frei.

Seattle Sounders are re-tooling for all the right reasons

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So the prescription definitely is re-tooling for handling these offseason losses, and even improving the squad’s lot. It’s nearly the same process as dealing with mid-season injuries and performance issues.

One important difference in this program, as explained by Lagerwey, is an emphasis on the team’s player development program. That was a strength of outgoing sporting director Chris Henderson.

Although he left, the upcoming players he evaluated have stayed with the Sounders. Lagerwey has a short-list of talent that could be ready to sub-in to matches this season.

The general manager added that he has pushed to move selected young players faster toward contributing to the first-team competition. So the next Sounders sporting director won’t just be matching Henderson’s talent in talent evaluation. That new sporting director will emphasize a reasonable but more aggressive fast-track to the MLS pitch for young talent.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has made things complicated for Seattle Sounders FC, just like every MLS team. But offseason moves actually have opened up salary cap relief for the team. Lagerwey described the situation as, “Leprechauns landed.” Even with pandemic restrictions, he’s got some flexibility. So given that flexibility, stay tuned. It’s not rebuilding. It’s re-tooling. And it’s still very significant. Look for Seattle Sounders FC in the next MLS Cup match. They’re going for the win.