Seattle Sounders turn focus to improving their attacking abilities in midfield
After another busy week in the Seattle Sounders' offseason, the roster is getting tantalizingly close to completion. The additions of defenders Jalil Anibaba, Damion Lowe and Jimmy Ockford and Homegrown Players Sean Okoli and Aaron Kovar, the Sounders have continued to get younger and more athletic.
There remains one area, though, that the Sounders are hoping to make some additions.
“Midfield,” Sounders sporting director Chris Henderson told reporters last week when discussing the roster. “That is something that we have been working on pretty hard and steadily all the way through. It’s something we’re going to work on and definitely address in a pretty short period. If we can add some significant pieces, that will really help us control games."
One player that has been linked to the Sounders is Marco Pappa. The former Chicago Fire midfielder recently parted ways with his Dutch club and is reportedly considering a return to MLS. If he came back to the league, he would go through the Allocation Ranking process, in which Seattle currently hold the No. 2 spot in the order, behind the Philadelphia Union.
If it comes to pass, a deal to bring Pappa to CenturyLink Field would shore up the attacking side of the midfield. There were certainly some raised eyebrows when the Sounders elected not to select any offensive-minded players in the first two rounds of last week's MLS SuperDraft.
“It has to be looked at in conjunction with the others moves in the offseason,” said Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid, pointing out that both Okoli, a forward, and Kovar, an attacking midfielder, have signed. Schmid also mentioned 22-year-old attacker Tristan Bowen, who arrived in December from Chivas USA in exchange for Mauro Rosales.
“We took care of those attacking options and got younger and more athletic in that area," Schmid said. "[In the draft], we also wanted to get younger and more athletic defensively.”
The Sounders, who traded away center backs Patrick Ianni and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado this offseason, have been searching for a young center back for a few years, Schmid admitted. They have used relatively high draft picks on Leone Cruz (2011) and Andrew Duran (2012), neither of whom panned out. They also picked Indiana forward Eriq Zavaleta in last year’s draft with the goal of making him a center back; he is slated to return to his more natural forward position this year.
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So Seattle entered this offseason without a center back younger than 29. Now, after adding Anibaba (who can also play on the flank), they have three center backs who are 25 or younger.
“We felt we came away and we got our defense younger,” Schmid said. “We’re still looking at a few things for this year and then we’ll be set to go.”