There's every reason to believe that Seattle will love Marco Pappa - we did in Chicago, loved him and watched him grow up playing on our left wing, progressing smoothly from a project to a human highlight reel. At his best, Pappa has the technique, the pace and the speed of thought to send any MLS defense running in a panic toward goal. His MLS highlight reel is substantial:
These goals are from consecutive game-weeks in 2010 - as Pappa's confidence grew, he grew more audacious.
Which leads us to the inevitable discussion of Pappa's downsides - perhaps 'downside' is more accurate. The collective 'meh' exhaled by large swaths of Fire supporter-dom has more to do with the nature of his leaving than any substantial holes in his game. It is fair to say that the end of his time wearing the Chicago badge was marked by astonishingly single-minded devotion to creating Marco Pappa highlights, as opposed to functioning as part of a ball-recovery or ball-retention unit. Everything about his body language and effort spoke of someone who simply couldn't wait to get to Europe, where the futbol, she is beautiful, etc., etc.
The Sounders are getting a player at a considerably different point on his narrative arc - it's hard to imagine the last 18 months have been anything but harrowing for the Guatemalan. Pappa had gone from Municipal to the Fire to Heerenveen, moving smoothly upward through each club, until the appearances just stopped coming altogether. He's played one (1) minute in the Eredivisie this season.
In scouting terms, Pappa is a creative, technical wing forward, strongly left-footed but clever enough to play on either wing. He combines well around the corners of the area, crosses accurately with either foot, and has shown the ability to play a lot of minutes without constantly breaking down physically. He finishes well for a winger, clearly enjoys the artful craft of shaping the ball in flight, and is likely to wind up taking a lot of set pieces for the Sounders.
He has not shown himself to be an imposing player defensively. He 'hasta el gol siempre,' which means that he frequently sacrifices defensive position for vanishingly small glimmers of attacking potential. As Marco's stature grew in Chicago, he more clearly disdained the fetching-and-carrying part of the game, becoming an out-and-out luxury player from a tactical standpoint.
It is this tendency which mitigates his potential - if he plays both ways, if he sublimates his thirst for glory into the group, then the sky's the limit. Marco Pablo Pappa Ponce is only 26 years old; will the previous 18 months watching inspire him to be what he can be? If so, the Sounders just replaced Mauro Rosales without burning a DP slot - a tidy bit of business.
Sean Spence is the managing editor of SB Nation's Chicago Fire blog Hot Time In Old Town.