Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ideal Lineups for 2012: Sounders

First Team:

GK: Michael Gspurning
LB: Marc Burch
LCB: Jeff Parke
RCB: John Kennedy Hurtado
RB: Adam Johannson
LM: Alvaro Fernandez
CDM: Osvaldo Alonso
CM: Brad Evans
RM: Mauro Rosales
WF: Freddie Montero
F: Eddie Johnson

Second Team:

GK: Andrew Weber
LB: Leonardo Gonzalez
LCB: Zach Scott
RCB: Andrew Duran
RB: Patrick Ianni
LM: Cordell Cato
CDM: Servando Carrasco
CM: ???
RM: Christian Sivebaek
WF: Roger Levesque
F: David Estrada

Gspurning is set as the number one between the posts, but Andrew Weber is fighting for his position with 2011 draft pick Bryan Meredith. Josh Ford is out with a knee injury and isn't expected to be healthy for a few months.

Leonardo Gonzalez is expected to win the number one LB job, but I think I'd prefer Burch instead. he's got that valuable free kick foot, and fits Sigi's new strategy of keeping possession and moving the ball forward out of the back. Gonzalez' speed and agility has taken a serious hit over the last two years and seems to be an obvious weak point in the back line, assuming Johannson lives up to expectations.

I want Steve Zakuani to be ready to go to start the season more than anything, but unfortunately that doesn't seem to be terribly likely. I'll be flying my Cascadia 11 flag regardless. Luckily for the Sounders brass, it means they can wait a little while longer before deciding  whose place Zakuani will take. Rosales, assuming he continues to play at the same high level as he did in 2011, isn't going anywhere. And Fernandez, while never really becoming a fan favorite, has done his job well. He has scored goals and created opportunities for the offense en route to ranking second in the MLS Castrol Index. It'd be nice to move him or Rosales to center mid, but there's no guarantee that either player would fit the position well. Thus, Brad Evans keeps his monopoly for another year.

That's a concerning monopoly considering that I'm not sure he really has an adequate backup this year. Erik Friberg played that role last year, but I've been under the impression that Sivebaek has been getting most of his minutes out wide.

Up front, the big news has been that Eddie Johnson is meant to be the forward partner with Fredy Montero. It worked well against a Florida college side a few weeks ago (a goal, an assist) but obviously it wasn't the top level of competition and he left the match early with a hamstring pull. If Johnson returns to 2006 form, the Sounders will easily repeat as the top goal-scorers in MLS. If not, it might fall to David Estrada or a healthy O'Brian White to pick up the slack. But Estrada has been receiving a lot of praise for his effort in the preseason, and will probably see decent time in multiple conversations.

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