There were definitely some encouraging developments in the Seattle Sounders 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake on Saturday, the least of which was probably that they'll be playing in the Desert Diamond Cup championship game.
A team made up mostly of reserves scored a pair of second-half goals and the defense that was supposed to be a problem looked solid for a second straight game. Winning was good, too, I suppose, but that shouldn't take away from the reality that the Sounders have some work to do in the final two weeks of the preseason. The midfield, especially in the first half, had a tough time linking together passes and the Sounders haven't created very many chances aside from their goals.
The more important developments, though, were with individuals. Let's see who helped and hurt themselves on Saturday:
Mario Martinez: That goal really was something amazing. He had a few other nice moments while playing what can best be described as a "free-attacking role" as he drifted all over the field. But if he can regularly supply goals like that one, the Sounders will probably be happy to give him that kind of freedom to roam.
Philip Lund: Score a goal and watch your stock go up. While I'm skeptical of Denmark-based rumors that suggest he's already earned a contract, he showed some quality upside in his first preseason game. Lund played mostly forward during his 25 minutes and showed off some good speed that could prove useful. Also showed off some sweet dance moves.
DeAndre Yedlin: One strong half doesn't mean he's going to jump ahead of Adam Johansson as a starter, but he was probably the breakout player of the game. He was up and down the sideline and sent in a couple dangerous crosses. Might be closer to earning playing time than I gave him credit for.
Zach Scott: Starting alongside Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Scott was strong. RSL didn't really pose much of a threat while he was in there. I can't imagine the team wants to open the season with him as the starter, but he once again showed that in limited doses he can be effective.
Ashani Faiclough: The undrafted rookie could be a dark-horse candidate to make the team after putting in a surprisingly solid second-half performance.
Djimi Traore: The veteran didn't play due to injury. I've said all along that the only way his signing makes sense is if he's a probable starter. If he can't stay healthy, that's going to be a problem.
Steve Zakuani: Obviously his roster spot is not in question, but he's still fighting for a starting role. While it looks like he's got a lot of his physical abilities back, I'm not sure he's ready to lift a significant portion of the scoring load. Zakuani was repeatedly dispossessed and didn't create much danger along the left side.
Babyele Sodade: Only played about 20 minutes and didn't make much of an impression. He also missed a glorious chance created by Alex Caskey. Not a horrible performance, necessarily, but he's fighting for one of the final roster spots and need to take advantage of every opportunity.
Sounders FC Training Camp Participants
Goalkeepers (4): Josh Ford, Michael Gspurning, Marcus Hahnemann, Doug Herrick-
Defenders (12): Marc Burch, Andrew Duran, Ashani Fairclough-, Leo Gonzalez, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Patrick Ianni#, Adam Johansson, Dylan Remick+, Zach Scott, Djimi Traore-, DeAndre Yedlin, Eriq Zavaleta+
Midfielders (14): Osvaldo Alonso, Cordell Cato, Servando Carrasco, Alex Caskey, Kevin Durr+, David Estrada, Brad Evans, Phillip Lund-, Mario Martinez, Lamar Neagle, Mauro Rosales, Andy Rose, Christian Tiffert, Steve Zakuani
Forwards (6): Will Bates+, Travis Bowen-, Eddie Johnson, Sammy Ochoa, Jennings Rex+, Babayele Sodade
#Stayed in Seattle to Rehab Injury
+2013 SuperDraft or Supplemental Draft Pick