The roster for 2012 is beginning to take shape. If we assume that the team will indeed sign Johannson, Burch and Cato, the Starting 11 is likely pretty much set and we can take a step back and look at the team's overall balance. With the combine, International transfer window and the Super Draft looming just over the horizon, now is a good time to see what moves the Sounders may still need to make.
Move 1: Find a solid second string RB.
The one glaring hole in the Sounders current roster is at RB. Even if the team signs Johannson, they don't have a true second string RB. Someone, who can step in at a moment's notice and play a string of games in the case of an injury to Johannson.
Yes, the team can use Zach Scott in some scenarios. But at best he really should be used selectively. The team could also try to move a current player to this as a new position. Likely candidates would be Sanyang, Levesque or perhaps Evans or Seamon. In some respects this might be the best options for Sanyang or Levesque long term with the team, but it would definitely represent a project. And this position is best not left to a project. That leaves the draft, International market or a trade.
This year's Super Draft probably only has one viable candidate with the skill level the Sounders need from the position and that's Andrew Wenger. He appears to be the only player in the draft that could step in should the need arise. Anyone else is much more likely to be a long term proposition like Tetteh. Unfortunately, Wenger is going to go either 1st or 2nd in the draft barring Montreal and Vancouver getting a wild hair. If the Sounders want him, they are going to have to pay to get him. With the team's depth, this may not be a bad option for their approach to the draft, but at best it's a long shot.
That leaves the International market or a trade. I personally think that the player will come from one of these two options, but who that player will be remains to be seen. Figure a solid journeyman with a reasonable salary would be a good option. I would expect them to trade draft picks, if they go the trade route.
Move 2: Add to the Developmental Depth
The team doesn't have developmental depth on defense or at the foward position. Due to OBW's health issues, having one more forward might be slightly more pressing to get a full compliment of forwards. But neither position is a glaring need. The team can bring in a couple of projects and let them duke it out in camp for a couple of slots and then work to develop the winners' skills over time. This would be a nice opportunity for a draft player, a young international or if the right opportunity presents itself, a youth DP. Looking over the Sounders' projected payroll, they probably have enough money to squeeze in a youth DP if the right circumstances unfold. Otherwise, they will use their third DP slot for Rosales and work with youth.
I expect the team will probably start the season with Montero and Ochoa up top and OBW, Fucito and Levesque coming off the bench. OBW is an unknown at this point. Assume that he is recovering but not starting at the beginning of the season, then he and Fucito give the team two great options for offense off of the bench. Add Neagle and Evans to the mix, and the team should have a potent bench should they need offense. Might be nice to take a flyer on either a draft player or a young international and bring them into the fold in these conditions. Not much pressure, but opportunity to earn a spot if they perform particularly off the bench in the secondary competitions like the USOC. Taking a flyer on a young striker like Chandler Hoffman might be a great option in the draft. Yes, the Sounders would need to trade up, but given their depth, this is a real option this year. Only one or two players from from the draft even stands a chance of making this roster. Might as well take a chance on a player who has a decent chance and fits a need. If they find someone in CONCACAF who fits the bill, that is another option.
Burch gives the Sounders some depth at CB and LB. But they could still use some developmental depth on defense. Only Tetteh currently qualifies as a developmental player in any of the 4 backline positions. Given the time it takes for these players to develop, it would be good for the Sounders to bring a good young CB or RB. Certainly, Wenger would slot nicely into this position, but otherwise haven't heard much about either area in this year's draft. There are some CBs available who should fall to where the Sounders pick. And there is a chance that the Sounders could find another late round gem due to their scouting. One option the Sounders could use approaching the Super Draft is just to gather what is available at their picks in the positions that they need and then throw them all into the arena of camp. Best two players get contracts. Sink or swim. Might not be the most elegant solution, but it certainly wouldn't require a ton of immediate cost on the Sounders part. This could also push some of the Sounders current roster players like Seamon, Sanyang and Estrada to perform or get cut in camp.
Possible Move 3: Bring in a Veteran Back up GK
The Sounders may also opt to bring in a journeyman veteran to compete with Ford and Meredith. I doubt they will spend a ton of money on the option, but having a veteran backup might calm some nerves. This move is certainly not a given for me. I could easily see the team let Ford and Meredith stay and get some experience in the Reserves and Secondary tournaments. But I won't be surprised if they pick up a goalie either through a draft day trade or somewhere in the international market.
Possible Move 4: Flabbergast us all
The last possibility would be for the Sounders to pull off a coup de main. Sign some big name that no one expects. Sudenly the Sounders faithful look up and see someone like Ronaldhino or Drogba in Rave Green. Do I expect it? No. But in the words of Judy Tenuda, "Hey, it could happen."
What are your thoughts on what business remains to be done? How do you think the Sounders should approach the upcoming draft?