With less than a week left until opening day, MLSsoccer.com is halfway through previewing each of the 19 teams in Major League Soccer, beginning with the clubs that brought up the bottom of the table in 2012 and ending with the Supporters' Shield-winning San Jose Earthquakes. This is part one of two previewing Seattle's 2013 season. You can find Part 1 here.
2012 record: 15-8-11 (56 points); 51 GF / 33 GA (+18 GD)
Depth Chart: 1. Michael Gspurning, 2. Marcus Hahnemann, 3. Josh Ford
Strengths: Injuries turned what was a seemingly deep position into one of significant concern last year. Assuming this group stays healthy, it’s hard to imagine any team being deeper while also having such a clear hierarchy. Gspurning is poised to become one of the league’s elite GKs, while no one in MLS has a clearly better resume than Hahnemann. Ford, meanwhile, has spent two years tutoring under some of the greatest GKs in American history.
Weaknesses: Gspurning struggled with injury last year, Hahnemann is 40 and Ford doesn’t have a single game of MLS experience. This isn’t a literally perfect collection of talent, but it’s hard to ask for much more in MLS.
Wild Card: Gspurning doesn’t have much of an injury history, but if he gets hurt again a lot of pressure will be on Hahnemann. The reality is that he hasn’t played regularly since 2008-09. As good as he looks in training and his limited appearances, there’s room to wonder how he’d stand up to regular playing time.
Depth Chart: RB: 1. Adam Johansson, 2. DeAndre Yedlin; CB: 1. Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, 2. Djimi Traoré, 3. Patrick Ianni, 4. Zach Scott, 5. Eriq Zavaleta, 6. Andrew Duran; LB: 1. Leo González, 2. Marc Burch, 3. Dylan Remmick
Strengths: This was three-fourths of the backline that allowed the second fewest goals in the league. True, the one player missing also happened to be their Defensive Player of the Year, but he’s been replaced by someone with a Champions League title and 16 years years of European club experience under his belt.
Weaknesses: There are still a fair amount of unknowns here. Johansson and Ianni are already battling injuries and it’s still unclear how well Traoré will adapt to MLS. Figuring out who will start in the season opener is almost as hard as figuring out who the starters will be at midseason.
Wild Card: Johansson. There were big expectations with the Swedish international last year and he mostly fell short of them. At his best, he should provide some attacking prowess, while playing solid defense. The Sounders will need to see more of him at his best this year or he could be on his way out.
Depth Chart: LM: 1. Steve Zakuani, 2. Lamar Neagle, 3. Philip Lund; CM: 1. Brad Evans, 2. Andy Rose, 3. Christian Tiffert (out of camp, future unknown); DM: 1. Osvaldo Alonso, 2. Sharlie Joseph 3. Servando Carrasco; RM: 1. Mario Martínez, 2. Alex Caskey
Strengths: The Sounders are solidly two deep at every midfield position and will probably need to come up with some creative ways to get everyone on the field.
Weaknesses: There’s a glaring lack of attacking prowess in the center of the park. Although Evans was apparently good enough that Tiffert has seemingly been deemed expendable, he’s not the most creative player, which means their attack will likely come from the wings.
Wild Card: Zakuani. Prior to his injury, he was quickly developing into the top attacking wide midfielder in MLS. Assuming he can stay healthy and pick up where he left off against the LA Galaxy, the Sounders shouldn’t be worried about a lack of scoring from the midfield anymore.
5 days 'til MLS: Can Seattle finally get to MLS Cup?
Depth Chart: 1. Eddie Johnson, 2. Mauro Rosales, 3. David Estrada, 4. Sammy Ochoa, 4. Babyele Sodade
Strengths: For the first time in seemingly forever, Johnson got to spend the offseason knowing exactly where he was going to be. As good as he was in 2012, this could be an even better year.
Weaknesses: There’s very little proven depth. Rosales is more of a winger, but he figures to open the season as the starter. Estrada is the only other forward on the roster with as many as 500 career MLS minutes.
Wild Card: The unknown. The assumption is that the Sounders will eventually sign a Designated Player to replace Fredy Montero. Who that is, when they get here and how quickly they adapt could very well determine how serious of a MLS Cup contender they are.