Squad depth key as Sounders grinding out results
SEATTLE – Alex Caskey woke up Saturday morning not sure if he’d even feature in the Seattle Sounders’ game against the Colorado Rapids. Upon arriving to CenturyLink Field, he found out he’d be starting in place of the injured Alvaro Fernandez.
Caskey would respond with a perfectly placed corner kick that earned him the assist on Zach Scott’s game-winning goal. It was his first MLS assist in his first-ever MLS start.
Such is life on a team that has used different starting lineups in all five of its games and given 19 players at least one start this season. No MLS team has started more players.
“It’s a testament to the depth of our team that we have so many guys that can fill in at so many positions when they need to,” Caskey said on Saturday. “It’s worked out well that we have a core group of guys that are in there, with Brad [Evans] and [Osvaldo Alonso] that are used to playing together and we can fill it in with guys who can come off the bench and start.”
The depth has been particularly tested on the defense, where seven different players have started. Patrick Ianni, the only defender to start all five league matches, actually opened the season as a third center back but got his chance after the Sounders were demolished 6-1 by Santos Laguna in Champions League. Including that match, the Sounders have just three players -- Michael Gspurning, Fredy Montero and Alonso -- who have started every game at the same position.
“I think it’s just being comfortable with each other,” said Sounders defender Zach Scott, who has started the last four matches in place of injured Adam Johansson. “Everybody’s working hard. Everyone knows if you make a mistake there’s going to be someone there to cover you. Communication has been good. Obviously, when we break down, Mike [Gspurning] is there to clean it up. I think it’s exciting to solidify the defense.”
All of this should bode well down the line. Even beyond MLS play, the Sounders will have US Open Cup and Champions League matches that will certainly test their depth even further.
“The front office does a great job of finding guys that can start on other teams, basically,” Scott said. “We have two starting groups.”
And so far, they've needed them.
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.