Yesterday's Seattle Sounders Reserve Team loss could teach us a bit about the portion of the team most fans don't get to see. Whether due to injury, being blocked by potential All-Stars or due to youth, several players saw their first extended minutes for their first time in front of the faithful. Here are Dave and Jeremiah's learnings from their perch in the press box, or you could read the whole gamethread.
- Alex Caskey looks great with the ball at his feet. He can beat men on the dribble, passes well in short and medium situations under pressure and looks like a solid addition for possession play in MLS games.
- Sammy Ochoa is further adjusting to physical play. It was made more difficult in that several of his moments of getting "bumped" off the ball were actually arm tackles, so it looked worse than his quality of play. When facing up in space his short passing was good.
- Mike Seamon is fast, passes well, moves into space and looked strong out wide. He may not have the peak ability of other players there, but belongs in the 18 more often.
- Andy Rose could be Brad Evans playing style clone. He wins midfield balls in the air, tackles cleanly and helps switch the ball from side to side with safe effective passes. His late run and interchange with Seamon was a carbon copy of Evans.
- Eddie Johnson had those flashy moments that show all the potential that Sounders fans want and desire. There's still something missing in his decision making. It could be from lack of training with his teammates, but all the tools are there.
Jeremiah's thoughts after the jump.
Cordell Cato is really fast
Like seriously, seriously fast. This was the first time I'd seen him play on a full-sized field, as opposed to the short-sided stuff we usually see at training, and he is just blazingly fast. He made up ground on defenders like they were running in quick sand. I'm not sure if he can keep that up for 90 minutes, but he was easily fast enough that he was essentially playing touchline to touchline without much trouble. He's got some decent skill too. I'm not surprised the Sounders want to see this guy develop.
Ezra Hendrickson has lots of ideas
I'm not sure how much of it was by design and how much was by necessity, but the second half was basically a game of "guess the formation." Once Cato came into the game, the Sounders were essentially playing a three-man backline with Servando Carrasco alternating between a traditional CDM and more of a sweeper. Cato sometimes slotted in as a wingback. There were large chunks where Sammy Ochoa was a lone striker in what we decided was a 3-1-3-2-1 formation. At the end, it played more like a 3-2-3-2. Alex Caskey was moving all over the place, sometimes out wide, sometimes in the middle, sometimes almost as a forward.
Christian Sivebaek is fun to watch, but...
Every time Sivebaek touches the ball, it seems, something interesting happens. He's got absolutely blazing speed for someone his size. He's great at attacking defenders 1v1. He has a shot that must be one of the hardest in all of MLS. Viewed in a vacuum, you can't help be blown away. Here's the problem, though, it hasn't been turning into much. For all the nuggets of promise, he's lacking that final touch that turns what he's doing into something quantifiable. By MLS standards, he's still pretty young at 24. Here's hoping Sounders coaches can unlock what his Danish coaches couldn't.
Andrew Duran more aggressive than advertised
Based on his college stats, Duran seemed to be pretty much your basic stay-at-home defender. He was mostly a center back in college and, although he was pitched as a potential fullback, there was no indication he'd be one in an attacking mold. Yet here he was in the reserve game flying forward and overlapping at nearly ever opening. He also had the play of the game for the Sounders, making a nice tackle inside the box that broke up a clear scoring opportunity. It's way too early to say he's the right back of the future, but I liked what I saw.
The 2012 reserves are a different breed
There were times when last year's Sounders reserves looked like a mid-table MLS team. Veterans like Pat Noonan, Patrick Ianni and Nate Jaqua were playing alongside promising youngsters like Mike Fucito and David Estrada. It was little surprise that they outclassed many opponents. That was certainly not the case on Tuesday, as Marc Burch was the only player older than 27. The upside is that the reserves will likely feature a lot more young talent than we've gotten used to seeing, but the downside is games like Tuesday in which the effort is disjointed and frankly a bit unorganized.