#26 Alex Roldan
Realio’s rating: 5.13 in 8 appearances
Community rating: 4.72
MOTM = 0 High = 6 Low = 4
Alex returned this year and remained a sub option that saw a surprising amount of 18s. He turned in MLS average performances three times this season, which was more than last year, and he did so in 11 less appearances. He failed to give much to get excited about, instead being a guy who was consistently “ok.”
What I liked: Alex happily went about his business, capable of filling in at multiple areas of the field and offering his version of possession and hustle. He always seemed eager and willing to work hard at practice and in games, and was the kind of guy who likely helped others improve more than any individual accomplishments.
What I didn’t like: Roldan got a number of chances this year to change how he’s perceived, but failed to show MLS level ability or upside. Subbing him into the match for Jordan Morris with five minutes left and seeing Seattle concede to New England to tie was disheartening.
Moving forward: I wrote this after a rough NE match: “It’s hard to blame the younger Roldan for the expectations fans and coaches alike seem to place on his abilities.” Although he is very cheap, I don’t see what reasons the team could have to bring back the younger Roldan brother. His improvement from last year’s cumulative 4.842 to 5.125 is minimal, and came in 11 less appearances. He has failed to show a high enough ceiling (scored once over MLS average in these ratings in two seasons) to be more than a USL level player, and bringing him back at the MLS level doesn’t make a lot of sense.
#25 Handwalla Bwana
Realio’s rating: 5.14 in 14 appearances
Community rating: 5.28
MOTM = 0 High = 7 Low = 4
After being passed on the depth chart by other players, Handwalla never regained his place and was relegated to spot appearances after an up and down season. Bwana is a tough player to watch at times, as you can see the talent that frankly others around him don’t have, but he struggled all year to put it together with any semblance of consistency. Part of this is an inability to seem to understand the tactical needs of the team, and fitting in amongst veterans that mesh well has been a struggle for a player who has all the physical tools to do much, much more.
What I liked: The foot skills and direct play ability is there. In flashes we saw a guy who wasn’t afraid to dribble right at defenders, and could create chances for himself and others. Added to the SKC match in August, he showed up in a big way, assisting on a Morris goal and showing that potential we keep seeing glimpsed of.
What I didn’t like: With all of his talent, it seemed like he was prepared for increased minutes over last year’s rookie season and while he played about an extra game’s worth of minutes, Bwana had less goals and failed to translate his flashy upside with tangible results on the field. Given a chance to go to Defiance and show he was better than USL, Handwalla struggled. A goal and 2 assists in 476 minutes in Tacoma were pedestrian. There is only so long we can wait for potential to be realized.
Moving forward: Bwana didn’t take the step forward I think everyone wanted this year. Although capable of a few high points, his inconsistency for the second year in a row is alarming. There was a huge role on this team for an offensive catalyst substitute, and Handwalla (and others) really failed to seize this opportunity. With others coming up through the ranks, I don’t know how many more chances these guys are going to get.
#24 Luis Silva
Realio’s rating: 5.33 in 6 appearances
Community rating: 4.96
Regular Season: 5.40 in 5 appearance - Playoffs: 5.00 in 1 appearance
MOTM = 0 High = 6 Low = 5
Luis came in almost as an afterthought mid-season and I don’t think anyone expected much from him. He was an okay Sounder who clearly did enough to get some playing time in the playoffs, and the coaching staff seemed to understand his strengths and be confident in exactly what he could (or couldn’t) bring to the team.
What I liked: Silva was pretty good at getting into dangerous areas, and definitely has a nose for goal, earning a respectable 11 shots (four on goal) in only 197 minutes. That’s a shot every 18 minutes, which compares well with Raúl Ruidíaz (one every 25 minutes) and Will Bruin (one every 54 minutes). As a veteran guy, he did fairly similar to other additions like this for the Sounders, and didn’t block anyone from minutes that would likely have been better utilized.
What I didn’t like: Signed to support in an attacking role, Silva never scored or had an assist for SSFC. As noted, he did well to get shots and created chances, but at the end of the day, attackers are judged for their ability to help get the ball into the net, and ultimately Luis didn’t do that.
Moving forward: Silva came into the Sounder season at the very end of the summer window and was a decent attacking option late in games. He never did enough to get rated low, but also failed to separate himself as a substitute that warranted more than spot time. For a team with plenty of veteran leadership and many younger players looking to break into the first team, it will be a surprise if he returns.
#23 Saad Abdul-Salaam
Realio’s rating: 5.41 in 17 appearances
Community rating: 5.51
MOTM = 0 High = 7 Low = 4
Saad was a trialist in the pre-season and did enough to win a backup role at numerous positions. Able to play across the back line as well as showing off a cultured attacking brain, Abdul-Salaam was an excellent bench option who could fill in all over the field and give a different look, especially defensively where his size and agility stood out.
What I liked: Abdul-Salaam was a pleasant surprise in 2019. When Jordan McCrary was let go, expectations for SAS were increased, and he lived up to them excellently. Able to play both outside back and center back, Saad came in and performed at MLS replacement level at both. His easy stride and unflappable defending were very pleasant surprise depth in the defense.
What I didn’t like: Abdul-Salaam struggled at times to understand the tactical plan of the Sounders, especially a number of times when asked to move into a 5-man backline. His timing on getting forward was inefficient, and he was very prone to ranging out of position and affecting Seattle’s attempts to keep compact defensive shape.
Moving forward: SAS was a really nice surprise this year, filling in very well at multiple positions. It’s possible that he returns, however I think it is likely that he is due a decent pay increase to do so. His versatility and pedigree are appealing for a team that used him 17 times this season and if he is affordable, he is the kind of flexible player who can really help a team with increased fixture congestion incoming.
#22 Joevin Jones
Realio’s rating: 5.42 in 19 appearances
Community rating: 5.76
Regular Season: 5.13 in 15 appearances – Playoffs: 6.50 in 4 appearances
MOTM = 0 High = 7 Low = 4
Jones made his (triumphant?) return to the Sounders roster mid-season, coming back to Seattle from a brief trip to Germany. He was signed to a fairly large raise, and the TAM level salary brought with it increased expectations that he clearly didn’t live up to. He failed to solidify himself as a definite starter at any position, but did find playing time in nearly every game after being signed.
What I liked: Rank 22 is low for a guy who started every game in the playoffs and played above average in them. This showed both his tremendous improvement late in the year as well as just how rough he started out. When he was playing well, he offered an intriguing change of pace as an inverted right winger who was strong in possession. This clearly worked for Seattle, with the highlight being an assist in the last game of the regular season as well as two more in the playoffs.
What I didn’t like: Joevin came in and was somewhere between bad and dreadful for seven of his first eight appearances. Seattle played him all over the field and he just didn’t even look MLS capable for much of those minutes. Back to back 4 ratings against RSL and LAG in August had many second-guessing bringing Jones back to the team. Even when his play improved, effort still seems to be lacking at times and while improved, he makes a lot of money for zero goals and two assists in 921 minutes.
Moving forward: Jones is signed for next year and is clearly a guy who is in Coach Schmetzer’s plans. Whether that is at right wing or at left back, Joevin will need to reproduce his playoff production rather than his regular season production if he hopes to be considered for starting roles. It is possible that he is just the second option at multiple positions, which isn’t a terrible thing.