When people talk about blowing up the core, what exactly do they mean?
In the transition from 2011 to 2012 the Seattle Sounders lost about a third of their roster. A vast majority of those moving on were fringe players with a couple supplementary types. Only by the most liberal definition of core did they lose two members of that group. A certain Keller was definitely a Core player and maybe Friberg or Riley. While others like Wahl and Fucito got significant playing time they were not part of the a "Core" group upon which championships are built.
Now in another offseason there is chatter that it may be time to break up the current Core. But what would that mean?
Breaking up the Core is not about high churn. In fact if certain players move, but are the only moves, the Core could be broken with very little change. Who are those players that are essential components of a team capable of winning at least one major Cup a year?
The answer among the Sounder at Heart staff when polled was broader than may be expected. Only three players appeared on every response - Fredy Montero, Osvaldo Alonso and Mauro Rosales. Few readers would be surprised if one of those moved on for various reasons. Also appearing on two-thirds of the ballots were Eddie Johnson, Jeff Parke, Michael Gspurning, Christian Tiffert and Brad Evans. In this case there are a few players that could move.
If that's your core, and only two other players received two votes, it will almost certainly be broken. The question now is by how much. In past years the Core was adjusted or tweaked during seasons. Ljungberg and Fernandez both moved on, but the Core was never broken.
This may be that year. Transition is likely. Churn will happen. And the Core of this team that has three major Cups, four Playoff appearances, two CONCACAF Champions League knockout rounds and the first MLS Cascadia Cup is going to change.
That Core has an average of two and a half years on the squad. Five of the eight have two or more years on the team. In 2013 it seems like there will be a new Core. How much it changed and who steps up to be a new member in that group will be a journey that we all get to watch.