For the past two weeks, MLSsoccer.com has previewed each of the 19 teams in Major League Soccer, beginning with the clubs that brought up the bottom of the table in 2011 and ending with the league's newest addition, the Montreal Impact. This is part two of two previewing Seattle's 2012 season. You can find Part 1 here.
Depth Chart: 1. Michael Gspurning, 2. Andrew Weber, 3. Bryan Meredith
Strengths: New starter Gspurning, 30, boasts experience in European leagues. The club believes he’s mentally strong enough to replace Kasey Keller and he’s arguably a better distributor than his predecessor. Backups Meredith and Weber are both highly skilled players who should also contribute to a positive locker-room environment with their easy-going natures.
Weaknesses: Gspurning is an unknown quantity in MLS. His great size (6-foot-5) could arguably be a liability on low shots. The Austrian will also need time to mesh with his backline.
Wildcard: Josh Ford, a Sounders 2011 draft pick out of UConn, fell out of the picture during preseason with a knee injury. The likeable player could be back to battle for a roster spot, either in 2012 or beyond.
Depth Chart: RB 1. Adam Johansson, 2. Zach Scott; CB 1. Jeff Parke -- Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, 2. Patrick Ianni, 3. Andrew Duran; LB 1. Leo González, 2. Marc Burch
Strengths: Seattle made overhauling the flanks a priority, offloading James Riley, who eventually ended up with Chivas USA, and Tyson Wahl to the Montreal Impact. In their place, Johansson and González are expected to keep the ball and rotate possession better offensively than their predecessors.
Weaknesses: In his first season since tearing his ACL in 2010, Hurtado took a while to get going. The MLS Defender of the Year candidate from 2009 was shaky at times, conceding 30 fouls to Parke’s 17 and being ejected twice in league play. He’ll need to better his performances in 2012 to keep up with Parke.
Wildcard: Eyebrows were raised when Seattle moved up to grab Burch first overall in Stage 2 of the Re-Entry Draft. The D.C. United castoff plays some good balls in from the left flank, but can he do the job defensively against the league’s dynamic right midfielders?
Depth Chart: LM 1. Álvaro Fernández, 2. Steve Zakuani, 3. Michael Tetteh; CM 1. Osvaldo Alonso -- Brad Evans, 2. Servando Carrasco, 3. Michael Seamon; RM 1. Mauro Rosales, 2. Christian Sivebaek, 3. Roger Levesque
Strengths: Seattle boasts arguably the best midfield in the league. Designated Players Rosales and Fernández man the flanks while Osvaldo Alonso is considered by many to be the league’s best defensive midfielder. Even without Lamar Neagle, who departed for Montreal in the Eddie Johnson trade, the unit remains strong in the two-deep.
Weaknesses: Of the four positions, probably the second or “attacking” midfielder role draws the most debate. Evans isn’t a true attacking midfielder in the vein of Javier Morales, but head coach Sigi Schmid raves about the veteran’s leadership and goal-scoring abilities.
Wildcard: Should Zakuani regain full fitness and confidence, Schmid may have to move either Rosales or Fernández into the middle to accommodate him into the starting lineup. Sivebaek’s presence also helped Seattle make the decision to part with the promising Neagle.
Depth Chart: Target Striker 1. Eddie Johnson, 2. Sammy Ochoa, 3. Babayele Sodade; Withdrawn Striker 1. Fredy Montero, 2. David Estrada, 3. Cordell Cato
Strengths: Having scored at least 10 goals during each of his three seasons in MLS, Montero is desperate to work himself back into the picture with the Colombian national team. The team is gambling that the addition of Johnson should allow Montero to continue to pull the strings — the striker has 26 career assists in league play to go along with his 34 goals.
Weaknesses: Despite scoring a league-best 56 regular-season goals, the Sounders’ forwards found themselves the target of scorn at times. A handful of bodies, including the departed Mike Fucito, rotated in alongside Montero with none of them truly seizing the opportunity. Can Johnson finally be the week-in, week-out solution?
Wildcard: The team referenced C.J. Sapong when describing their hopes for draft pick Sodade. The rookie faces an uphill battle for minutes, but the team likes what it has in the Canadian standout.
WATCH: 2011 Seattle Goals