Plummeting down the standing the Seattle Sounders are about to play a second East Coast road match in just a few days time. Coming off the loss to New England they will have to face D.C. United, another poor team in the lesser conference, but there is little reason to think that a Seattle side without Dempsey, Valdez, Torres and maybe both of Evans and Marshall can win a game on the road. To make matters worse a couple of the veteran starters do not look good when well rested. If the season is over (it isn't, yet) what could Garth Lagerwey and Sigi Schmid learn by punting this one match before the break by giving their healthy youth a run out before the two-week Copa America break?
First off, due to health among the under 25 crowd the lineup cannot be all youth. There aren't enough CBs or CMs on the squad and Craven is injured right now. That puts an interesting opportunity for one player to play "out of position" but maybe test his viability beyond just flashy left back with poor crossing.
In this concept Joevin Jones plays as the attacking mid/left wing hybrid like Andreas Ivanschitz does. Having a good dribble and a decent shot for a left back there is a possibility he could handle the role.
Other regular starters that would see time would not need much of a shift - Morris, Kovar and Roldan would play their typical roles. They've all had poor to good games on the season. They are a large part of 2017 and if 2016 is to be rescued they would have to be good in the latter two-thirds of the year.
Mears would be rested for Oniel Fisher. While Fisher has not looked great with S2, his pre-red time in MLS was good. He can flash forward and cross well. If he didn't make a silly tackle his season and play probably looks different.
Tony Alfaro earned the start after his performance against the Revoluation. Whether he's paired with Scott, Marshall or Evans would depend on health.
All together this is not a lineup that should be expected to win games. Gomez, Friberg and Ivanschitz offer something on the bench if the score is close late in the game.
But, it is a lineup that "punting" would look like. With Lodeiro, Torres, Dempsey, Valdez, Evans, Marshall and another TAM player coming into the squad shortly after the break it is time for a recalibration of the squad overall.
If Joevin can be better in attacking roles than he is as a left back, maybe he fits there instead of Ivanschitz. If Fisher can get a tiny bit more punch into the attack he could unseat Mears now or during the offseason. Scott's days are winding down. Lagerwey & Co need to understand if Alfaro, Lowe or Ockford are the answer as the 3rd or 4th CB in 2017.
This concept damages Seattle's ability to keep a clean sheet. The attack is very young for MLS, but it is also one that could be sparked by the belief that this is their time. Gomez and Valdez aren't scoring, assisting or providing much attacking value. Darwin Jones deserves the opportunity now that he is healthy and a few weeks have passed since his father passed away.
This is completely risky. It may be considered high-risk/low-reward. A team that's already the third worst in the league is not rewarding itself, nor its fans.
After the game against D.C. United the team has a significant break. It can choose to only use that break to recalibrate, or it can start in a match it shouldn't expect to win anyway.