Preseason games shouldn’t be read into in great depth. The important thing is that the team gains fitness and no one gets hurt. In that regard, the Sounders’ 3-1 win over Sacramento Republic can’t be seen as anything but a success. Still, there are bits and pieces to be gleaned from this performance.
Jordan Morris is healthy. While Sacramento isn’t the highest level competition, Morris looked better than he did at any time in 2017 (at least with the Sounders) and maybe better than he did in 2016. Both of his goals were well finished, but it was his off the ball movement and passing that impressed me more. He was willing to “try shit” in the passing game and that bodes well for him combining with Dempsey when they are paired together. His speed and strength caused all sorts of problems in the Sacramento defense and if his teammates had been better about finding him, he might have had a few more chances.
Jordan McCrary and Waylon Francis aren’t going to make you forget Kelvin Leerdam and Joevin Jones. Both had moments where they looked okay, and some moments where you were left scratching your head. I’m comfortable with both as backups, but I don’t think Francis showed enough for me to believe he should be ahead of Nouhou.
Tony Alfaro isn’t progressing as a player. He was often out of position and late to read and react to the opposition. Sacramento’s goal (whether it was ruled an own-goal or not) was the result of pretty poor defending, and Alfaro still shows too much of a propensity to go to ground when it’s not needed. If the Sounders need depth, finding someone better than Alfaro to be the third CB should be a priority.
Henry Wingo can be a viable option as a wide attacker. He’s very direct and very willing to take people on, and while that can get him in trouble (trying to dribble out of trouble at the top of his own box led to a turnover and dangerous free kick), he also created a lot of dangerous opportunities for his team. While much will be made of the finish on his goal, and it was a great finish, the way he worked himself into space before the pass was delivered was just as impressive. If I had to start a game and was down to my fifth attacking midfielder, I might start Harry Shipp. But I’d much rather have Wingo than Shipp on the bench as he brings something quite different than other attacking options.
Seyi Adekoya played the best half hour I’ve seen from him in a Sounders uniform. He looked strong and fast and was willing to play direct at goal. If he can just do that and not make too many bad decisions, he becomes a very good bench option for late in games.
I’m not sure what was going on with the Jordy Delem/Cristian Roldan pairing. Other than the first 10 minutes of the second half, the team seemed to be using Delem to distribute the ball into attack as well as push forward to join the attack. This may have been designed to get Delem more experience playing that position, but if I have to choose which one of those players I want contributing to the attack, I’m not choosing Jordy.
Harry Shipp may be the most frustrating player I’ve ever watched. It’s not because he isn’t good (he is). And it’s not because he makes a lot of mistakes (he doesn’t). It’s that I can tell how well he sees the game, how well he passes, and how he knows were the spaces to exploit are, but he often doesn’t have the athleticism to implement the things he sees. On the plus side, he isn’t trying to do things he can’t. But it can be incredibly frustrating to see him play a pass and try to run into space only to see the defense close him down before he can get there.
Stefan Frei is still Stefan Frei. He commands his back line well, is usually in good position, and can make a good save when he needs to. His distribution can still make you scratch your head, but all in all he’s the same as he ever was. Nico Lodeiro and Chad Marshall are still basically the same versions of themselves to which we’ve grown accustomed. Marshall doesn’t appear to have lost a step, and while some of Lodeiro’s passing was just a little off, his work rate and movement were in midseason form.
I’m not sure this is a lineup we’ll see often, but the players you would expect to be starters showed me enough to think they’re ready to play and the backups showed enough that I think Seattle will have some interesting and dynamic options on the bench.