While it may not have seemed like it, the Seattle Sounders were actually impressively deep last year. Injuries certainly challenged that depth, but winning the U.S. Open Cup while using more than 20 players should tell you something about the quality at the bottom end of the roster.
If coach Sigi Schmid is to be believed, it looks like the Sounders could be even deeper this year. Schmid saved some of his highest praise today for those players battling for the last few rosters spots.
Specifically, he had this to say about the rookies in camp: "They are doing well. In fact, we just spoke a little bit at lunch about the game today and I said to the group, ‘You guys are making it very hard for the coaches. It’s very competitive and our decisions are going to be very difficult.’ In talking to some of the older players, usually when you talk to them it’s always like, ‘Well, this guy or this guy or this guy aren’t at the level coach,’ but when we talk to the older players, they’re saying, ‘No, no, practice is good no matter who we are combined with everybody can play.’
"So I think that speaks to the depth of it. So it’s going to make it difficult for us in terms of making those choices. With time, everybody sort of weeds themselves out and some are going to be decisions based upon what we think of his ability and then it might come down to some final decisions just being positional and maybe even cap-related."
One of the non-rookies who recently joined the team is Kerry Baptiste, a Trinidad and Tobago international. Today, we learned a little more about him.
"He’s got a ton of speed," Schmid said. "He’s very, very quick. He scored a lot of goals back home. First couple of days I think he has been getting his feet wet and used to what’s going on. Today was probably unusually, bitterly cold for him. But he’s done all right. It’s too early to make a final analysis but he is a forward who plays high, likes to play off the shoulder of the left defender and he’s got good speed and quickness."
Schmid also made it clear that almost no player is guaranteed a spot, with several players still in the mix for starters minutes.
"O’Brian White and Erik Friberg are certainly making claims for, ‘Hey, you’ve got to pay attention here coach. I think I can play.’ So I think those guys are certainly pushing. When you’re looking at the rookies or some of the trialists beyond that I think they are pushing more to make the team than the starting 11. But guys who were reserves last year, the [Mike] Fucito’s and so forth are also certainly knocking on the door."