Is Alex Caskey the winner from today's changes in Seattle? (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
This was written just prior to word getting out that the Sounders weren't done yet.
With today's Summer transfer window closing the Seattle Sounders made two moves to dramatically shift their "Ideal XI." With Alvaro Fernandez heading to the Chicago Fire for allocation money and the newly official signing of Christian Tiffert as the team's sixth Designated Player the full impact won't be felt for a few weeks. While Tiffert just wrapped training camp with Kaiserslautern, he is unlikely to be a regular starter for a bit but should be able to play some minutes and help the team rather quickly as he's in shape and ready.
The impact will then be two fold. For Saturday's match against the Colorado Rapids some combination of Alex Caskey, Andy Rose and Brad Evans will start at the left mid and central midfield positions. Caskey's skill set is a kind of lite version of Neagle and Fernandez. He's a decent short passer, willing distance shooter without game-changing speed. His pursuit post turnover can help give the Sounders defense time to reset. Rose is emerging as a dark horse Rookie of the Year. His playing time is ever increasing. He's strong defender, decent aerial player and like Evans prevents the easy pass against by occupying space. Brad Evans' greatest assets lately are positional flexibility, strong defense and field leadership from working within the same system longer than any other Sounder. For one game, against a struggling MLS side, these particulars aren't going to make or break the attempt at three points.
In the midterm Tiffert may pop into the Left Mid discussion despite his history being as a Center Mid and Right Mid. It would keep things the most stable for the less experienced players on the squad. But the long term greatest impact is an Ideal XI that puts Tiffert in the place where he makes the most sense - Center Mid.
That leaves a fairly large question as to who plays on the left when all are healthy and there's a must win game. Caskey an Rose are rookies performing admirably, but with flank play being so important for Sigi's Arrow can they count on rookies? Or will Evans be even more role flexible? Or does Steve Zakuani make it back by the MLS Cup Playoffs? Or will Hanauer and Co. find an unregistered player or left wing from within MLS to upgrade there as well?
There aren't answers, but the more attacking five changed today. How much that change means will have to be evaluated after games are played. For now we can merely guess.