While predictions for the Seattle Sounders' 2016 season were anything but easy going into yesterday's MLS SuperDraft, the flurry of trades, draft picks, and rumors in the last 24 hours has made it even more difficult. Sigi Schmid addressed a few of these questions today in an exclusive phone interview with Sounder at Heart, but the future is anything but certain in the weeks leading up to the start of Sounders preseason.
A few things were confirmed by Schmid, especially the roles of the players picked up by the Sounders yesterday. Joevin Jones, who was traded from Chicago Fire in exchange for a draft pick and allocation money, will be expected to "compete right away for the left back position, and could even play up higher as a left winger."
As for Tony Alfaro, the defender selected by Seattle with the 27th overall draft pick, "we expect him to come in and compete as well, because he's a guy who can play left back." Alfaro was specifically selected by the Sounders because he's a left-footed center back, something the Sounders didn't previously have. "So, it depends on our young center backs competing with each other and seeing who comes through that. But I think he's going to be one of those guys that's going to compete at our level, or at the very least play a lot at the S2 level."
Similar to GM Garth Lagerwey's comments on the Sounders' other second-round pick Zach Mathers, Schmid said about the Duke midfielder, "I like his vision, I like what he sees on the soccer field. We expect him to be the kind of player that develops and grows, and that might be through S2 for a year." Mathers isn't meant to have an immediate impact on the first team, but it's apparent that the club hopes he can develop into a long-term solution.
Schmid also hopes that Jordan Schweitzer, the midfielder signed to a Homegrown Player contract earlier this month, can be relied upon for midfield depth both now and in the future.
"Jordan is a guy who organizes and connects for your team. He's someone that we know fairly well, and he plays a position that we could use some depth in after losing players like Pineda." Schmid says that Schweitzer's chances are good and that he expects the player to come in and compete quickly.
Sounders' midfield depth (or lack thereof) has been a hot topic this offseason, and Schmid admitted as much.
"Right now, we've lost a little bit of depth at midfield, so we need to replace that and depending on what happens, there are some options there that we're looking at." Schmid says that he has "a list of players that are coming in on trial, as well as some other players we're looking at that we haven't heard back from yet." There's still plenty of time before the season starts, but Schmid said that he'd like to finish any more business "sooner rather than later."
When asked if he was planning on changing his tactics to suit the lack of depth at midfield, Schmid said that it was more about getting the best players on the field rather than shoehorning players into a tactical plan. "I always try to find what I think is best for the group of players that we have, but I think when you look at our team and the front-runners (forwards) that we have, trying to get those three guys on the field makes a lot of sense. So that may dictate how you play a little bit in midfield and at the back. It's more of a case of trying to get our three talented players on the field that can play up front than it is about whether or not we have depth in midfield that would change our formation."
As for today's rumors that Obafemi Martins could make a move to the English Premier League on permanent transfer or loan, Schmid said that no contact has been made with the club as far as he knows. "The last communication I had with him was about two or three days ago, and he said that he's coming in [on Saturday]."
Martins signed an extension last year that keeps him under the Sounders control through 2017. The Sounders would be unlikely to approve any move that does not involve a significant transfer fee.