Following a year in which the Seattle Sounders won just one of their final 10 matches, Brad Evans says “it was time” for a change.
As it turned out, change came in the form of a significant roster overhaul in which the Sounders parted ways with 10 players, including six who were regular starters at various points in the 2013 season. In return, Seattle brought in another 10 players, including seven with MLS experience.
“Every couple years [as] a team you’re going to have to go through changes to grow,” Evans told reporters following Wednesday’s training session. "You get a certain amount of time with a certain group of players, and if you don't win, you have to change it.
"Most of the time, it is going to be your star players you try to change. And to [replace them] with well-known players from around the league, that's just the nature of the game; that's the business part of it. … We did lose some big names and some very good players, but I think we've also brought in some great players as well to fill in those shoes. I think the group is a little bit stronger."
Seattle have new MLS veterans at each position, from Stefan Frei in goal and Chad Marshall and Jalil Anibaba on defense to Marco Pappa in midfield and Kenny Cooper, Chad Barrett and Tristan Bowen up front.
Although Evans has only had one training session with the new-look Sounders after spending the last month with the US national team, he said he could already sense a change in atmosphere.
“It’s different than it was last year,” Evans said. “It doesn't guarantee results or anything, but you always want to go to a place where you're comfortable and the guys around you, their spirits are always lifted. We haven't lost any games yet, so it's tough to tell if this group is going to stick together or if it is not, but the first impressions are that it is a good bunch of guys and a bunch of hard workers.”
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That seems to be just what the Sounders were going for during the roster reconstruction.
“I think everybody is just coming out to practice and working hard,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid told reporters on Wednesday. “You saw practice today — there was good spirit in practice. There was good intensity. Everybody’s pulling for each other, everybody’s pushing for each other, and that’s the important thing from our team standpoint.”