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Parke, Ianni and How Positional Flexibility Creates a Better Sounders FC

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Patrick Ianni will play many roles for Sounders, all as a defensive stopper.
Patrick Ianni will play many roles for Sounders, all as a defensive stopper.

Jeff Parke and Mike Seamon are back in camp today. Seamon has a secondary trial period to make the squad, and the shot seems a bit long right now. There is so much depth in the attacking positions (besides CAM) that Seamon's best chance might be as deep cover hanging out at one of the local PDL sides. He wouldn't be the first guy still on the radar for Sounders FC to do that.

Parke's case is much more clear cut. He is on the roster and he is of the quality to be an MLS starting centerback. Ok, that's where the clear cut ends. The Sounders have an obvious CB in Hurtado. They also have an aging vet who makes a few mistakes a match, and has a bit of a temper so gets a card or two a month in Marshall.

Then there is the issue of Patrick Ianni. The young former Generation Adidas player is pretty darn good. He could start on about half the teams in the league at CB or CDM, and yet here he's at best third on the depth chart in both roles, maybe.

Except that shortly the Seattle Sounders start their stretch in the US Open Cup and in the CONCACAF Champions League. So depth isn't a pleasure, it is a requirement of success. That and injuries. Sigi's statements offer some clarity.

On Ianni

"We brought him into the midfield in the game against New York because I wanted more of a physical presence. I was really going back and forth between him and Sturgis. I actually thought New York was going to start [Tony] Tchani and I felt Patrick would be a better matchup there and I wanted to make sure we were matched up good on set pieces. He’s one of our stronger players in the air. He’s played defensive midfield for me before on this team and the U-20 team. I felt confident putting him in there. Right now with Alonso still coming off the mend, and with Pete being injured, midfield is probably where Patrick has to play a little bit more as we look at the next two or three weeks."

His role for the foreseeable future in the 4-2-1-3 will be as one of the Defensive Midfielders. Ianni offers some decent ability to get forward in attack, but his defense both on set-plays and run-of-play. Without the adding of Parke, though, the Sounders likely couldn't afford to play Ianni as a starter every match because they don't have the cover at CB. Marshall is aging, and does have an injury history.

But with a player that Sigi describes as

"...a player we have talked about often in the past. He’s a player we wanted to get here at the beginning of the 2010 season but for whatever reasons it didn’t work out and didn’t work out and didn’t work out. Now it’s finally worked out and we are happy to have him here. Now it’s a matter of us all being able to get down to work, have all that contract nonsense and ‘Is he coming? Is he not coming?’ behind us and we can just focus on the soccer part of it."

"He’s a player who is comfortable as a central defender, that’s probably his best position. He can play in a back three or a back four. He can play outside back as well in a pinch. So he gives us some more depth there. He gives us opportunities with injuries or whatever to move people around. Certainly as we move into the second half of the season, he gives us the depth that we need when we are talking about trying to play Open Cup, Champions League and League [MLS] all at the same time."

Having a third player capable of starting in League, Open Cup or CCL play means that Ianni is free to go into a role as Alonso's second. He can play at the same time and provide a much stronger defense, or in non-League play Ianni can be the Alonso in Rave Green. Against the likes of Portland or Kitsap, Ianni will be the best CDM they see in a year.

The positional flexibility of both Parke and Ianni strengthen the team in all competitions. Each will get significant minutes in the 2010 year, including many starts in league play. Not just due to injury, but because they are both good players that deserve starting time.