Sounders roster assessment: Finding help from within

With the Seattle Sounders tight towards the wage cap for 2023, probably the most routes they’ll want to take to search out help shall be by means of the children whose MLS futures they keep an eye on. If one or two in their skills can pop like Obed Vargas, Jackson Ragen, Josh Atencio, Danny Leyva and Abdoulaye Cissoko have, that can cross far towards serving to the workforce compete for MLS trophies once more.

Mostly, they’ll want gamers who can help in extensive areas, as there are already too many younger defensive midfielders or even centerbacks. This 12 months, Tacoma Defiance and the Sounders had a couple of flashes of who which may be. There also are a handful of gamers who had been loaned all the way through the previous season who may have a long term in Rave Green.

MLS skills that didn’t characteristic

These kids had been on MLS contracts, however noticed little or no MLS time, and no longer a lot with Defiance both. That hole spot is the place Josh Atencio and Danny Leyva had been in 2020, which means that it isn’t inconceivable to show a misplaced 12 months into an MLS long term.

It additionally way their time is proscribed.

Ethan Dobbelaere

Just 992 professional mins in 2022, Dobbelaere used to be loaned however didn’t play for MFK Vyškov because of harm. His mortgage ended early when he healed from that harm after which instantly began.

There are some questions on his everlasting place. Dobbelaere used to be on the U-17 World Cup (with Leyva and Ocampo-Chavez) as a winger, however his skilled long term appears to be for granted wingback, a place that Seattle didn’t use a lot remaining season. For him to transition to a proper again in four-back units, Ethan will want to proceed to increase his on-man protection.

Hope for ‘23: Dobbelaere wishes common developmental time for granted again, no longer a winger. He will have to earn that point over Baker-Whiting and Cody Baker, who were given more often than not at Defiance this 12 months. Those two chasing him must be inspiration for low season refinement. The anticipated alternative to begin semi-regularly in secondary competitions must be a perfect carrot.

Dylan Teves

With Defiance, Teves stuffed in in all places, form of a tender Kelyn Rowe or Brad Evans. His versatility is an asset, however that can most effective be true at decrease professional ranges. He used to be by no means utilized in a defensive function (DM, fullback, wingback) with the primary workforce. In MLS, Dylan appeared to be a deep attacking substitute, most probably channeling some hope that his scoring with UW could also be a spice up.

There must be a approach to get Dylan inserted in roles with the ball at his toes pointed towards target. That could also be as an either-side winger or wingback (if Seattle returns to odd-back units). He’s been robust doing that on an excellent school workforce and in restricted alternatives in Next Pro. He’s no longer speedy. He’s a space-and-move man, who must be on ball-side of the motion.

Hope for ‘23: Seattle has lacked an all-around attacking participant since each Roldans held that place of their first professional years. Teves has the abilities to help on every attacking wing or even step again to wingback or fullback roles in emergency use. Dylan must be an everlasting fixture within the gameday 20 with the MLS workforce, and a widespread sub.

Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez

One of the fun of observing developmental football is when a participant takes large steps ahead. Ocampo-Chavez did that within the 2022 MLS Next Pro season when he displayed two new characteristics — efficient heading and defensive force. He used to be already quite succesful with pace at the wing and just right at ghosting into area. As a poacher within the early season ‘Fonz used to be superb.

By the tip of the 12 months, his xG after all matched his objectives scored. But that used to be as a result of he went chilly after beginning the season with an enormous scoring streak.

If the primary workforce concept he used to be able they’d have used him, however they didn’t. That used to be even though AOC scored smartly and the Sounders didn’t. There must be an opening they see. That hole is most probably associated with him being undersized for ahead and no longer speedy sufficient at the wing. He could also be an excessive amount of of a tweener for MLS play.

Hope for ‘23: Unlikely to have his option picked up, ‘Fonz should seek a USL Championship or foreign team that can take advantage of his development into a wonderful poacher. He may get a final shot at the Sounders roster during preseason. Seattle tends to have veteran bench forwards and plays those men ahead of their youth, but there’s not more like-for-like participant to interchange Ruidiaz than AOC.

Reed Baker-Whiting

The maximum vital query about Baker-Whiting is what place is his long term? For the USYNT he’s a dynamic wingback. For Defiance, he used to be at his ultimate as a defensive winger. They additionally attempted him as a ten, an 8 and a 6 over time. Reed’s ++ ability is working out area. He’s repeatedly controlling spaces with out the ball, each in assault and in protection. He’s a big, unconventional runner who remains to be younger and is already hyped as a long term nice.

For the Sounders to maximise that possible they must paintings hand-in-hand with the YNT coaches to ascertain a enlargement trail for RBW. Help him give a contribution for the season-and-a-half he has to be had after which give him the gap to do greatness somewhere else. He must sign up for the record of Sounders potentialities who’ve succeeded in Europe (Yedlin, Wingo, Rogers).

Hope for ‘23: Reed wishes common, constant time as a swing fullback/wingback. His loss of ultimate product paired with an abnormal working out of area works reasonably smartly as a contemporary wingback. His on-ball protection is already one of the best within the group.

Club-controlled however somewhere else

These guys spent some (Adeniran, Kinzner) or all (Serrano, Villanueva) of the season in USL. Unlike the Sounders and Defiance gamers, I didn’t watch each unmarried minute they performed.

Sam Adeniran

Discovering his talents at the wing overdue in ‘21, the Sounders signed Adeniran to the primary workforce. He performed wing for slightly with Defiance early within the 12 months after which, as a result of he used to be between league qualities, the membership despatched him on mortgage to eventual USL Championship shield-winning San Antonio FC.

With SAFC, Slammin’ Sam nonetheless confirmed his stunningly robust shot. Mostly in a two-forward set, Adeniran used to be used as a swing extensive ahead to all sides of former Sounder Justin Dhillon. He nonetheless has the nice pace you discovered to like. He could also be gradual at the flip along with his hold-up play, however Sam is superb when doing that hold-up winger factor. On a workforce of USL stars he used to be the largest, main San Antonio with 10 objectives.

From John at USL Tactics and Backheeled to Sounder at Heart:

Adeniran is likely one of the ultimate two-way forwards within the USL, lively within the press and ruthlessly environment friendly as a finisher and transition risk.

Hope for ‘23: Jordan Morris and the other winger cannot start and play 70+ minutes when the team will likely play at least 40 games and potentially more than 50 matches. Adeniran is a high-pressing energetic wide player who can hold up on the flanks. He’s additionally been goal-dangerous for 2 directly years. It’s time he performs and even perhaps options at the wing.

Ray Serrano

In the general 12 months of his first professional deal, Serrano performed for Louisville City, the second-best workforce within the USL Championship. In their standard 4-2-3-1 he used to be virtually only a large midfielder, after enjoying a few of remaining season as a wingback.

His field rating numbers could also be down, however his high quality isn’t. If Lou City makes a playoff run it should simply be as a result of Ray.

From John at USL Tactics and Backheeled to Sounder at Heart:

Playing as a full-blown winger with Louisville City, Serrano is an increasing number of in a position to make use of his pace and technical ability whilst nonetheless offering a wingback’s defensive intuition.

Serrano used to be additionally featured within the ultimate USL Championship energy scores by way of John:

Ray Serrano used to be a relentless focal point. He’s within the 71st percentile for Goals Above Replacement and above moderate in necessarily each statistical class, however his versatility at the pitch is my favourite facet of Serrano’s recreation. Tacoma used him as a wingback, however he’s adept as a winger-turned-centerman within the wonky, fluid Louisville device. His deep drop, ahead motion to create an overload, and hockey-assist pass helped earn Paolo DelPiccolo’s candy volley to open the scoring.

Hope for ‘23: Serrano absolutely deserves an invite back to Sounders camp. Though he’s out of contract, Seattle holds his MLS rights and he confirmed that he merits MLS time. If they don’t need him again they must business the ones rights for allocation cash. Let Ray cook dinner.

Alex Villanueva

On a squad recognized for each successful and promoting, Villanueva and all of Orange County didn’t do a lot of both in 2022. In years previous Alex used to be used as a winger, a wingback and a left again. With OCSC he used to be principally only a standard left again, a close to waste of his pace and proficient dribble.

Alex is at his ultimate blazing down a touchline, no longer confined to a defensive function.

From John at USL Tactics and Backheeled to Sounder at Heart:

Villanueva struggled along with his defensive function in a messy Orange County aspect, however he’s nonetheless prepared at the overlap and has taken a step up bodily.

Hope for ‘23: Villanueva probably needs another year in the USL Championship. Now as a pure left back, he’s proven he can be informed the function, however he wishes a while. Alex most probably doesn’t get some other glance from Seattle, however may nonetheless finish up netting them allocation or a low draft select in the future within the subsequent 18 months.

Eric Kinzner

Unable to overcome out two MLS gamers and two school graduates, the teenager phenom from Tacoma wanted enjoying time. Seattle despatched Kinzner right down to FC Tucson. Once they noticed him as a normal starter they rose from the picket spoon to just about making the playoffs.

Like maximum younger defenders, Eric is slightly foul inclined. His imaginative and prescient on lengthy balls looks like Jackson Ragen or Gustav Svensson, as he’s at all times searching for large switches. A difficult defender, he’ll want reps to increase his positioning.

Hope for ‘23: Kinzner should start every game for Defiance next season. He’s too just right for USL League One. His time is in Next Pro is now. Centerbacks increase overdue and there’s a lot of time for an MLS long term.

From Defiance or Academy

Marlon Vargas

Though Marlon Vargas has already mentioned good-bye to the Puget Sound area, he must nonetheless be thought to be for a call for participation to Sounders camp in January. Outside of nationwide workforce gamers and DPs, no person else within the group is as in a position to enjoying the Y (6, 8, 10, wing).

Marlon exploded onto the scene in 2022. Now a pacesetter, scorer, and help guy, the Bakersfield child changed into a Tukwila guy. He ran in all places, repeatedly in quest of techniques to get the ball behind the web. Working more difficult than in any earlier season, Vargas demonstrated abilities that had prior to now most effective been hinted at. His passing tree after all seemed complete and sundry. His scoring contact used to be subtle and robust. Finishing within the Best XI and as a finalist for the MVP, there used to be not anything else he may turn out in Next Pro.

But, he didn’t get a shot in MLS — perhaps a deeper Open Cup run would have helped that. After 5 years as a professional, the now 21-year-old is a loose agent.

Hope for ‘23: Marlon is already a free agent, as his contract is out and he has said his goodbyes. There’s not anything extra he can turn out in Next Pro and even on a foul USL Championship workforce. An MLS workforce must signal him. Whoever indicators this guy gets a participant whose motor stops on the ultimate whistle and whose imaginative and prescient is at all times against the target.

Georgi Minoungou

Minoungou has abs with abs. Fitness is probably not what assists in keeping him in or out {of professional} football. His skill to be informed the ways of the sport are what is going to be what is going to decide his period of occupation.

Georgi is attention-grabbing to observe with the ball at his toes. An intriguing dribbler with respectable imaginative and prescient, he persistently seems to overcome his guy and some other with ability strikes that would blow up TikTok. Still uncooked, there’s a possible for one thing particular within the subsequent 12 months.

Hope for ‘23: Here on loan in 2022, Minoungou should be expected back with Defiance in 2023, starting every match on the right wing. This isn’t about sinking and swimming. This is set refinement, and the one approach to achieve additional working out of area and when to cross or cross it by myself is by way of getting reps. There’s a tale arc the place Georgi finishes the season at the first workforce. He’s that particular.

Randy Mendoza

Mendoza informed me after the Defiance playoff win that his sole focal point after having jaw surgical procedure following a harsh take on that knocked him subconscious used to be to play for the Sounders-Defiance group once more. It used to be an extended procedure that helped him know how a lot the sport intended to him, how laborious he must paintings, and what kind of ache he may tolerate.

He got here again more potent, sooner and a pacesetter. The 2022 captain virtually only performed at left again in his ultimate season ever, a season after his jaw used to be sealed close for weeks.

Mendoza’s a lockdown defender at decrease ranges who won’t ever hand over on his workforce. He might battle if he ever will get the risk to play up, however he’ll combat after which combat once more. Because this can be a guy who pursues goals like General Kirigan pursues a white stag.

Hope for ‘23: A late-bloomer, Mendoza’s standing for 2023 is unknown. Any membership having a look at Mendoza subsequent 12 months is aware of they’ve a participant who by no means quits on performs or on his workforce. His skill to play any defensive function saves roster area and his management will encourage the squad. If Seattle can work out a approach to get him into their follow squads they’ll to find that he’s unwilling to head simple on veterans who try to coast during the daily.

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