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2012 Draft Continues Defensive Makeover, Finds Cover At Forward

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With neither of Seattle Sounders FC's MLS SuperDraft picks being from Generation Adidas nor pre-signed seniors or internationals the two players are going to have to fight to make the tight roster. A roster that may get even tighter before they report as General Manager Adrian Hanauer said during today's conference call there are "other deals that are possibly pending or getting close." This means that though one can guess at what Andrew Duran and Babayele Sodade bring to the table, their additions are not assured. Hanauer also said, "Duran and Sodade will have to come in and work hard coming out of this draft. We have a very deep and strong team and we hope they prove to us that they belong on the roster and ultimately earn minutes and have an impact on the team."

If they do make the squad they bring different things. Sodade is a similar style of player to O'Brian White, who it is clear the team is stilled concerned about coming back to regular play. Three different times Coach Sigi Schmid mentioned White's health as a reason Seattle looked to Sodade who Schmid describes as;

... [a] big body. He’s a big presence up front, he’s got good pace. Obviously for us, one of our concerns as we go into this season is the recovery of O’Brian White, so we’ve got some forwards. We went on the move and we got [Sammy] Ochoa, but Sodade is different. He’s a much bigger body than Sammy. He showed well at the combine, he’s had a good career at UAB and he’s the kind of player who could be a surprise guy like [Kansas City forward] C.J. Sapong was last year.

This is a bit of a return from the style of play which ended Seattle season. Schmid noted that hold up play isn't limited to tall, bulky man mentioning that Mike Fucito held the ball up well, but with the team losing Nate Jaqua and White's question there was need for not just a high forward, but a target type. He also mentioned that Sodade was the only one like that in the draft.

While that will be a return to more extensive target play, the 15th pick of Duran continues a new style of defense for the team. A style that started with the losses of Tyson Wahl and James Riley and continued with additions of Adam Johansson and Christian Sivebaek. While Duran is much more of a centerback, his style is composure on ball and smart passing.

Schmid described his play;

He’s a very steady player. He’s not a flashy guy. He’s not going to crush the huge tackles, but he’s a guy who takes care of the ball, who completes his passes, who is fast. He’s got good feet and [...] can deal with faster, quicker forwards in the league, as well. He’s somebody who tends to not make many positional errors.

Duran, who is thrilled to continue playing for one of the best supported teams but at a new level, his concern about MLS is not about the physical nature. Instead it is about the mental pace of things.

Primarily I need to catch up with the speed. A lot of people underestimate the speed of MLS. When I was in Seattle this summer, I was in the middle of a 5 v 2 game for probably 10 minutes. The speed adjustment can be a big thing, but once I can catch up there I think everything else will come into play. I’m talking about the speed of the game.

He has to make the team, but this is the type of player who should punt the ball less frequently. Seattle is trying to transition to this style their new rightback, possible backup rightback and even the keeper fit the mold. There may be a bit more immediate risk from the tactical switch, but it should also mean that the team is in better shape when advancing the ball.

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