Back before the first ever Seattle Sounders FC match in 2009, it was fairly clear who the veteran leaders would be -- Kasey Keller, Nate Jaqua, Tyrone Marshall and Peter Vagenas. Each had long careers and, except for Keller, those careers were primarily in MLS. Just three seasons later, none of those players are on the roster. Three left just this last offseason along with eight other players. It is the greatest amount of roster churn the young club has had and it could create challenges for Sigi Schmid. The current roster is at 33 players, and if each make the team, 14 will have less than a season wearing Rave Green.
Schmid knows who he will lean on to show the newcomers his system and the culture of the Sounders per his statement in yesterday's conference call:
There’s now the Alonsos, the Monteros, the Evanses, the Hurtados, and Parkes. There’s guys that are here that know what it means to be a Sounder, that know what it means to go out and train hard every day and be dedicated and be professional. Even though there’s turnover and there’s new players coming in...you still have a core...
That core is younger than the 2009 leaders, but still has experience and time. All (except Jeff Parke) were with Seattle for the 2009 win over the New York Red Bulls that launched the team, as were Zach Scott, Roger Levesque, Patrick Ianni and Steve Zakuani. Between those nine players, they have 52 years of experience playing in North American professional soccer. Their average age is 27. While there is youth in that group, the two 24-year-olds (Fredy Montero, Zakuani) have been focal points of the offense when healthy.
Even on top of Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Parke, Montero, Scott, Levesque, Ianni and Zakuani there are a couple other players with more than a season in Seattle. Sigi talks quite a bit about having multiple leaders on the field and in his discussions about who will be the captain, only Mauro Rosales is a name not mentioned in the above list. Few would be surprised if he gets the armband.
The Sounders are certainly younger now then when they ended the season. A majority of the roster churn saw an older player replaced with someone with fewer years on their calendar. And yet, the core of the team has experience. Together they managed a strong three seasons only clearly surpassed by the LA Galaxy. The hunger of the fans for just a bit more than consistently being in the top third of the regular season and US Open Cups is shared by these men. They were there for the failures in the MLS Cup Playoffs and the 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League. They were also there for the succeses.
Yes, 11 Sounders are Rave Green no more and a dozen are new this offseason. The numbers indicate high turnover. Sigi Schmid thinks that might be a bit misleading though.
I don’t think it’s bad as maybe it looks when you look at numbers.
Maybe in the past, or with other losses, the churn would be a red flag. This team seems to be banking that by being just a few years older those young kids are now men capable of more than ever before.