Seattle reached their fourth MLS Cup final in five seasons in 2020, highlighting the club’s consistency and dominance in recent times, but there are a number of questions facing the club heading into 2021.
Jordan Morris is out for the season and a number of regulars from last year are no longer on the roster. As always, plenty of intrigue will surround head coach Brian Schmetzer’s team.
- MLS Reg. Season: 2nd in Wstern Conference (39 pts - 1.77 PPG - 11-5-6, +21 GD)
- Audi MLS Cup Playoffs: Eliminated in MLS Cup by Columbus Crew, 3-0
- Concacaf Champions League: Eliminated in Round of 16 by Olimpia 4-4 (4-2 on penalties)
One of the league’s best players, Lodeiro got his first MLS Best XI nod in 2020 with seven goals and 10 assists in 20 matches. With the club light on wingers, it’ll be interesting to see where Schmetzer decides to deploy Lodeiro. Still centrally or as a playmaking inverted right winger?
Ruidiaz is, simply, a goal scorer. The Peru international goes out and gets goals, no questions asked. He has 33 goals and eight assists in 53 MLS appearances, one of the more reliable finishers in the league.
Seattle’s third DP, Paulo’s loan from Botafogo was made a permanent transfer this offseason. The 30-year-old will dictate the play from deep and fit very nicely with Lodeiro and Cristian Roldan in their first season together.
Young Player to Watch
Leyva broke through in 2019, signing his homegrown contract at just 15-years-old and debuted aged 16 later in the season. In part due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he didn’t take a step forward in 2020 but should see plenty of minutes this year. The US youth international is a tidy central midfielder.
- Fredy Montero: An original Sounder and the club’s all-time leading goal scorer is BACK! The 33-year-old lit up MLS in rave green from 2009-13 before heading to Europe with Sporting CP then returned to MLS with the Whitecaps and signed with Seattle as a free agent this winter. He had five goals and five assists in 1,059 MLS minutes last year.
- Kelyn Rowe: Rowe, like Montero, was signed as a free agent this offseason. He spent 2020 back with the New England Revolution. The MLS veteran made 10 starts for the Revs last season
- Gustav Svensson: Svensson had been one of Seattle’s unsung heroes for the last four years and was out of contract after 2020. The 34-year-old announced his goodbye to the city, though has not yet announced where he will be playing next. He made 90 regular season appearances for the club.
- Kelvin Leerdam: Another regular who joined in 2017, Leerdam was also out of contract. The right back signed for Inter Miami and Seattle are yet to sign a replacement at the position. Alex Roldan figures to get first crack at starting.
- Joevin Jones: Like Leerdam, Jones also signed for Miami this winter. Jones was with Seattle for four of the last five seasons, operating up and down the left flank.
Projected Starting XI
- Goalkeepers (3): Stefan Cleveland, Stefan Frei, Spencer Richey
- Defenders (7): Xavier Arreaga, Yeimar Gomez Andrade, Jimmy Medranda, Nouhou, Shane O’Neill, Alex Roldan, Brad Smith
- Midfielders (9): Josh Atencio, Jordy Delem, Ethan Dobbelaere, Shandon Hopeau, Joao Paulo, Danny Leyva, Nicolas Lodeiro, Cristian Roldan, Kelyn Rowe
- Forwards (3): Will Bruin, Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez, Raul Ruidiaz
Armchair Analyst's Breakdown
- Strength: They still have Lodeiro, Ruidiaz, Joao Paulo, Cristian Roldan and Stefan Frei. No team with those guys in the XI is going to be anything less than good.
- Weakness: They lost a ton last year — Gustav Svensson, Kelvin Leerdam, Joevin Jones, Roman Torres and Jordan Morris — and none of it has been replaced, really. Morris’ speed and ruthlessness in attack is a particularly glaring loss. Add in that they’re only three-deep at center back and Seattle are a “still under construction” feel even more than usual.
- Charles Boehm: 1st in West
- Tom Bogert: 5th in West
- Susannah Collins: 4th in West
- Matthew Doyle: 4th in West
- Sam Jones: 4th in West
- Michael Lahoud: 4th in West
- Joe Lowery: 2nd in West
- Jillian Sakovits: 4th in West
- Greg Seltzer: 3rd in West
- Steve Zakuani: 2nd in West