Don't freak out if the Sounders start out slow.
I'm sure most of us remember the beginning of last season. It sucked. Our team couldn't score goals. The first time they tallied twice in the same game was in MAY.
Save for a loss to Portland, the 2013 Sounders had an undefeated preseason last year as well. So through five weeks, they found themselves 0-4-1, with only an incredible Champions League game to somewhat placate a fanbase that was losing its collective shit. Then, that team went on an incredible run June through September. It started terribly, and ended horrifically, but the fact is that the middle stretch was monumental. There were a number of factors that played in (including luck) and yet there's no denying that the Sounders were the best team in MLS for a large swath of 2013.
The fact is that something similar may happen again this year. At least the beginning and middle parts.
What we're looking at right now is a team made up of almost entirely new parts. From Dave's final preseason Depth Chart, only six starters return to their roles from the end of last year. Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey may be the two most important of those returning players, and neither of them were part of this roster when last season started. Our keeper (split preseason time), both of our center backs, and our opening day left fullback have never played competitive minutes with each other. Dempsey has missed the entire preseason on loan, and will have little familiarity with either his old teammates or his new ones. So for more than half of our 2014 roster, this is essentially the first time they have played with this group of players. It's almost like an expansion team, that way.
While the 2009 Sounders were an exception, those groups don't typically hit the ground running. There is an established core (namely Osvaldo Alonso and Brad Evans) but with an offensive linchpin like Dempsey yet to touch the pitch, concern for attacking chemistry is fair. It may take a few weeks again for the goals to come consistently. Guys like Marco Pappa and Kenny Cooper may miss some passes or make runs into areas that don't fit the system. Chad Marshall, Jalil Anibaba, and Stefan Frei may not always be on the same page. The Sounders may lose some games early.
And that is fine. Because there is some incredible talent collected on this roster. Health permitting (knocking on wood), this may be the best Sounders team of the MLS era. The next best team may not even be that close. There is the talent and personality here for another mid-late run. Anything that happens before the end of April is gravy. For the first two months, the old and new players will be getting to know each other both on and off the pitch. I hope and believe that when they know each other, this roster will explode.