The slow offseason continues. While the Seattle Sounders likely lost less significant talent than other top teams in the league, their moves have not been as significant as the teams that added talent (the exception being their opponent in the last two MLS Cups). Seattle’s additions to this point are Waylon Francis, Handwalla Bwana and Magnus Eikrem. At this point that’s a starter (who may not start due to depth in the attacking band) and two rotational players.
Within MLS roster construction rules a team fills three roster buckets — senior slots (18-20), supplemental slots (4) and reserve slots (up to 6, if two are HGPs). They can also do one full-season loan down to S2 to open up one more spot. Likewise, loaned players within the league (Aaron Kovar) do not take up a spot.
Seattle’s open roster spots are mostly in that senior bucket. They are likely to keep two open for the year for cap management purposes, but that still leaves two senior spots and two supplemental spots available to fill.
The needs are fairly obvious, whether or not you think Will Bruin or Jordan Morris are able to repeat their best seasons, Seattle needs another capable centerback.
A third keeper is a necessity. Calle Brown is in camp and could simply take that spot.
More competition at forward would be great, too. Morris looks amazing so far, both with the US and with the Sounders. His movement, vision, passing are all good to great. His speed is back. But if Seattle is going to play with two forwards often, they need a 4th forward better than Seyi Adekoya, or one who can force Seyi to rediscover the form he had at UCLA.
The best news when looking at the Depth Chart is that Seattle’s depth is built on the backs of the Academy and S2. Henry Wingo was fine in his time in 2017. Jordy Delem’s preseason performances are a clear reminder that he is a good backup at defensive midfield. Preconceptions regarding Handwalla Bwana are being re-calibrated with every appearance. The teen phenom might need to be listed alongside Morris and Yedlin as a major success, if he continues this kind of form into the regular season.
And The Future? It looks good, and is rapidly developing. If you scroll down the “live” Depth Chart you see a smattering of the potential HGPs, some as young as 15, who are already getting time in preseason matches and are clearly part of the plan for S2 in their first season in Tacoma. Leading that charge is 15-year-old Ray Serrano. He isn’t the only one who might appear in pro matches this year. Brisco, Ocampo-Chavez and Teves should be on a short list, if you are keeping one. (We are.)
This year the “live” Depth Chart will also track every rumor, trialist and draftee. It’s an addition that over time should help us understand future targets as well as how the team judges talent. To this point, only Eikrem (signed by Seattle) and Erceg (signed by Al-Ahli Dubai) are the types that add to top-end talent. The rest are about solidifying depth and building for the future through S2 or the back-end of the roster.