Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE
Although the Sounders said it was only precautionary, competition for the second centerback spot could be opening up.
Already heading into the season without their top defender from last year, questions are already arising around the Seattle Sounders' defenders ability to stay healthy. Center back Patrick Ianni, who was the presumed starter after the departure of Jeff Parke this past offseason, appears to be nursing an injury that at least kept him out of Saturday's post-speed test scrimmage. It was unclear when the injury may have occurred.
Uh oh. Just spotted Patrick Ianni on crutches here at Sounders practice. No word yet on any injury. They're checking it out.— Joshua Mayers (@joshuamayers) January 26, 2013
The team said Ianni was held out only as a precautionary measure. While it's entirely possible that this is something minor that could be cleared up in a matter of days, there's only about five weeks left of preseason and any lost time is somewhat concerning.
What makes this all the more disconcerting is that Ianni has a developing reputation as an athletic, but injury-prone player. The 27-year-old has missed time each of the past two years with various injuries. In seven professional seasons, he's never played more than 25 games and his career high in minutes played is 2,096. Parke, by contrast, appeared in no fewer than 28 league matches and played at least 2,387 minutes each of the past two seasons.
Whether or not Ianni's injury is serious, this should serve as a reminder that someone is likely going to have to spell him at some point this season. Right now, the top candidate would have to be Zach Scott if only because he's the only proven center back left on the team. Beyond him, rookie Eriq Zavaleta and virtual rookie Andrew Duran would seem to be competing for minutes.
Zavaleta clearly has the highest upside of the group, but he's also relatively inexperienced at center back, having spent the bulk of his two seasons in college as a forward. Duran may be even more of an unknown. Despite being in his second year, injuries kept him from making a single competitive appearance last year. It is worth noting that he's apparently recovered enough from his knee surgeries to run the third fastest times among returning Sounders in the 10-meter sprint.
Top 5 speed-test Results
1) Isaiah Schafer - 3.95
2) Ashani Fairclough - 3.99
3) Osvaldo Alonso - 4.01
4) DeAndre Yedlin - 4.02
5) Jennings Rex - 4.03
Next Two Returning Players
Josh Ford 4.10