Adrian Hanauer brought in some talent during the secondary transfer window. Blaise Nkufo and Alvaro Fernandez are already changing how the Sounders operate on the pitch. At the same time, as we've discussed a few times, the Sounders returned a few players to health (Osvaldo Alonso, Nate Jaqua), dealt one away (Freddie Ljungberg) and benched another (Tyrone Marshall).
With my recent discovery of a treasure trove of MLS Plus and Minus data (no more doing it manually), soon to be augmented by weekly league-wide Shots For/Against Plus/Minus, we can look at how the opening day lineup compares to the current world, and just how much better the Sounders are.
A reminder a Plus is given for any goal scored for the team when said player is on the field. A Minus is when the opposing team scores against the players team and they are on the pitch.
Early: Montero and Levesque = +2
Mid: Montero and Noonan = -1
NOW: Montero and Nkufo = +5
Early: Zakuani and Ljungberg = -9
Mid: Zakuani and Ljungberg = -9
NOW: Zakuani and Fernandez = +1
Early: Alonso and Evans = +1
Mid: Ianni and Vagenas = -7
NOW: Alonso and Sturgis = +4
Early: Hurtado and Marshall = -8
Mid: Parke and Marshall = -6
NOW: Ianni and Parke = +1
Constant: Gonzalez and Riley = -4
Constant: Keller = -2
Five new starters have come into the lineup since the beginning of the season. The standard lineup has now earned a +5 where as at the beginning of the year that was a -20 and during the awful middle of the season a stunning -29. These numbers are fairly interesting as a few of the players are among the worst by this stat amongst all players on "competitive" teams - Peter Vagenas and Tyrone Marshall. Freddie Ljungberg though is the worst among those players with a negative 9 from his time on Sounders, and now at a negative 10. Worst overall in the league is Santino Quaranta at -19; the best player is Omar Gonzalez with a +20.
Now I'm not saying this is a forward-looking stat. I am not saying that the current Sounders lineup would be the type that puts up a +25 over the season. But the first 16 games had issues, and almost all have been addressed. If we really think that Alvaro is a future CM/CAM, the answer at RW is still unknown, but the young kids there are neutral or positives, but none actually move the needle except Sanna Nyassi (+2).
The reason there is a new Sounders team is not because of confidence or will power. It is because overall there is more talent on the field now.