Leo González, one of the few remaining Sounders from their inaugural season, seems unable to be displaced. Six years on, and many experimental (and some more long-tenured) left backs later, one man's face always comes to mind when you hear "Seattle Sounders LB." It's Leo.
He offers calm and predictable defense at a high level, and has long since adapted to being a stay-at-home fullback who makes smart passes and takes care of possession. Though he gained a reputation for earning cards with the occasional rash retaliation, he ended 2014 with just three yellows and no red cards, an improvement over past seasons.
The starting spot is Leo's to lose, but he'll be turning 35 by the end of the season. Time will tell if this is the year Leo steps back (again) into a rotational position or if Zach Scott has been sharing his youth elixir with his partner on the left side of defense.
Rarely joins the attack up the pitch, and often chooses wisely when he does by moving the ball quickly back to the center rather than driving down the line. Not a strong crosser. Good and conservative short- and medium-range passer and effective in moving play up the left side in combination with left midfielders.
Though he doesn't have the foot speed to match many MLS wingers, González continues to be a very difficult man to get by on the way toward goal. He uses footwork, positioning, physicality and a knack for reading his mark's next move to force play to the sideline. His "bend, don't break" defense leads to many blocked crosses and tackles for throw-ins.
Not the biggest and certainly not the speediest defender. But Leo is tough on the ball and not afraid of physical play. Decent in the air but doesn't have much of a vertical.
Best Case 2015:
Leonardo González Arce continues to defy his age and beats out all comers to retain his starting LB spot throughout MLS play, likely leaving other competitions as a proving ground for his backups. If he can stay healthy and maintain his current adequate speed, this seems likely.