Jhon Kennedy Hurtado looks to return to his starting role, but who should join him?
With training camp opening to the general media (that includes us) there will be plenty of interviews with the newer players. The team will get to reacquaint itself/each other with their methodology, the lack of significant churn means that most of the likely 18 are players who have been on the roster for at least a year. There will certainly be fierce battles for the end of the bench, but the thing is there are some questions in fandom as to who will be starting.
Over the next two months there will be games, scrimmages and general practices that will start to define the direction of the team in the early months of the 2011 quest for a treble. So as we pay attention to the preseason here are the contests for starting roles.
Center Mid - The "Not Alonso" role will be contested by newcomer Eric Friberg, designated player Alvaro Fernandez and now healthy Brad Evans. Who ever wins this will be expected to be both an offensive and defensive player at the same time. All three are capable of starting. Over these next weeks watch to see which of these men start most often, where and what they add that the others do not.
Right Wing - Basically the same set of men as above, except there may be the off chance that Mike Fucito gets the chance to be a second inverted winger opposite of Zakuani. He also displayed in his late season opportunities the ability to provide some set-play service.
Left Back - Sigi likes his attacking fullbacks. We see it in James Riley on the right, and early in Leo Gonzalez' time in Seattle we saw it quite a bit. Somehow after scoring a goal we saw less of attacking Leo. He's also lost a bit of his ability to defend one-on-one. Challenging the Costa Rican national will be two of Seattle's off-season additions. Michael Tetteh will get forward even more than Leo or James do, but probably lacks some defense as he's converting towards defense. Danny Earls might not have been the best left back with Colorado but the youngster did get 15 starts and over 1400 minutes.
Centerback - While Julien Baudett won't be starting in camp this week, he probably was not going to challenge any of the three quality starters that Seattle has. Sure there are questions about the health of Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, particularly concerning when he'll be 100%, but if he's 90% he's one of the better defensive players in the league. Which of the other two options partner with the Colombian. Jeff Parke and Patrick Ianni may find that they platoon as either can be a non-league player at RB or CDM.
Oddly enough with the rest of the likely starters, and the backup keeper likely to be Terry Boss Seattle has 17 of their 18 settled. Who takes that last spot will be competitive, but will have less influence on matches won than the decisions on those four starting roles.