Seattle Sounders FC is loaded with talent. Two players are getting mentioned as potential MVPs (Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins) while at least two more should be in any year's conversation about the Best XI (Chad Marshall, Osvaldo Alonso). By adding Sounders 2 (S2) there is also an influx of youth. HGPs Aaron Kovar, Darwin Jones, Victor Mansaray and direct-to-USL signings like Duncan McCormick and probably Isidro Prado-Huerta draw eyes as Sounders. There are two Generation Adidas players (Cristian Roldan, Damion Lowe) and even a young foreign signing in Andreas Correa.
This is a team flooded with talent. This is a sample of who Sounder at Heart staff thinks will be best in 2015.
Lots of players could win this one. Draftee Cristian Roldan, HGPs like Darwin Jones, Aaron Kovar and Victor Mansaray are eligible. S2 players like Pablo Rossi and Duncan McCormick are exciting. Veterans such as Jimmy Ockford and Damion Lowe are still under 23 as well. With the addition of S2, the idea of nominating players that aren't even on pro contracts yet can be washed away. If Morris wants to be the SaH Young Player of Year he can sign a contract! (This is a dumb reason to sign a contract.)
sidereal (Ride of the Valkeries, S2, Academy, Scouting Reports)
With Brad Evans moving into the defense full time, the central midfield depth behind Alonso and Pineda looks to be Rose, Azira, and Roldan. With the Sounders in three competitions this year, Alonso coming back from injury, and Pineda a year older, I expect that depth will get exercised. Azira has looked a little shaky in possession in the preseason and Rose's abilities are more in the air than as a playmaker. So I'm predicting that Roldan will get plenty of minutes at an influential position.
While sidereal makes the case for Roldan a majority of staffers thought that Aaron Kovar would win the recognition. Eleven people thought that the strong preseason, the easier path to 18 and the fact that he's a second-year veteran would mean that Kovar would have a meaningful season after last year's forgettable one. One staffer thought that Victor Mansaray would dazzle us all with a racing fin haircut and a nose for goal.
Only two players received votes. Both could win the league MVP. Both writeups could be true. Damn, it's good to be a Sounder.
Andrew Tingkang (Fantasy, copy)
Captain America is coming into this year refreshed. Clint had a full offseason and a successful preseason stint with the USMNT, where he looked at times like the most creative player for the U.S. in their two friendlies. Already off to a great start in the MLS preseason, he should feed Oba and Lamar plenty of goals and bag plenty of his own. The Gold Cup may be a distraction, but I expect the Sounders to get their money's worth and more from Clint in 2015.
The voting was fairly even. Dempsey trailed with only six votes to Oba's 10.
Jeremiah Oshan (co-manager SaH, manager SBN soccer)
Simply put, there's no offensive force in all of MLS quite like Obafemi Martins. Sure, it's entirely possible that on a per-minute basis, Clint Dempsey may end up with better numbers, but he's likely to miss anywhere from 6-8 games with international duty. Martins, on the other hand, probably won't have any such distractions. If Martins stays healthy, he could very well become the Sounders' first-ever 20-goal scorer.
Last year we all witnessed the might and power of Chad Marshall. He was ranked the second most important player by you readers and unseated Osvaldo Alonso as the most important defensive player. It isn't a surprise that he dominated the predictions. What is surprising is that Alonso got zero votes. Fourteen of sixteen SaH prognosticators felt that Air Marshall would continue his strong performances. The other two?
Ryan Cowper (Tactics)
Last season was Stefan Frei's first full season back as a starting MLS goalkeeper. After injury and losing his starting role sidelined him for parts of several seasons with Toronto FC, Frei had a nervy first half. It's not hard to understand why given it was a new city, new surroundings and a new corps of player built around another new addition in Chad Marshall; in short, lots of new.
As the Sounders came down the stretch last season, Stefan Frei finally found his footing, working well with his defensive partners in possession. Those partners in turn started to give Frei the most of situations where he was called on to do his job, namely saving goals. While no goalkeeper has ever won the Defensive Player of the Year at Sounder at Heart, an integrated and comfortable Stefan Frei could be the first.
Who do you think will get those three end of season SaH awards? Young player is for players who would qualify for the Olympics if it were this year. Offensive player is for players who primarily attack. Defensive player is for players who primarily prevent others from scoring.