Ahead of the Cascadia clash between the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Seattle Sounders we sat down with (well, slid into the DMs of) Dave Clark from Sounder at Heart to learn a bit more about the Sounders. If you want to see the other half of the conversation you can click here
86 Forever: The Sounders are well off the playoff pace. Where has it gone wrong?
SAH: Everything — injury, suspension, coaching errors, leaving valuable roster spots open, dumb keeper mistakes, dumb defensive errors, players aging out. At the First Team level it’s nearly impossible to find a player, coach or front office staffer who should not share blame for the start to 2018. There’s reason to hope now, but it may be too late.
86 Forever: Will the signing of Ruidiaz do what the signing of Lodeiro did in 2016 or are the problems to deep for one signing to fix?
SAH: The injuries are starting to fade away. McCrary is suspended but this is only the 2nd suspension since the three-match streak to start the season. Coach Brian Schmetzer seems more capable of coaching a squad that is nearly at full strength than one with huge holes.
That leaves two major questions — can the ancient Dempsey and Alonso start to play like a shadow of themselves and is Ruidiaz what Nkufo, Lodeiro, Leerdam were? There’s a rather strong chance he is. Three other times the Sounders went on massive runs after signings. Adding a 20-goal-a-year scorer to this offense will be a massive help.
Dempsey and Alonso will determine their own worth.
86 Forever: Which Seattle player, that Whitecaps fans probably don’t know about, should they be more aware of?
SAH: Welcome to Cristian Roldan’s Sounders. The adopted son of Seattle (he’s actually from California) is a United States National Team player, occasional captain, a defensive stalwart, smart passer, and leader.
He doesn’t inspire fear as Alonso did when he was at his best, but he’s more likely to win the ball now than Ozzie is. Roldan’s biggest question mark comes because of his position — he’s at his best playing as an ‘8.’ Most of the systems that the Sounders and USMNT run don’t really use a box-to-box midfielder, but in Seattle he still plays like that, getting forward more often than his partner in holding mid. It will take time for America/Canada to realize it, but Roldan is one of the top 20 non-scoring/assisting players in the league, right now. He’s still got time to improve.