It doesn’t take a tactical genius to look at the Seattle Sounders roster and conclude that playing with two forwards — at least in the short term — makes a lot of sense. In Raúl Ruidíaz, Will Bruin and Fredy Montero the Sounders have three proven goal-scorers, all of whom have averaged at least .50 goals+primary assists per 90 minutes during their MLS careers.
This will mark the first time since 2014 that the Sounders have had three true forwards who can boast that sort of resume. Especially considering the relative lack of experience on the wings, finding a formation that better utilizes the team’s depth at forward only makes sense.
During his recent appearance at YachtCon: Back to School, Brian Schmetzer gave his strongest indication yet that the Sounders are seriously considering such a change and even hinted that it could be the primary formation.
Schmetzer noted that the conversations first started shortly after the MLS Cup loss, picked up steam when he found out Jordan Morris would miss at least half the season while on loan, and then became even more serious after the extent of Morris’ injury became clear.
“With Jordan’s injury — there was some hope that he’d come back to us in the summer, maybe just a temporary new look for us — we started to think this is real,” Schmetzer explained. “We don’t have our most dangerous wide player anymore, he’s probably gone for the entire year. We have to talk about making some serious adjustments.
“We are committing during this preseason to finding a way to get Will Bruin on the field with Raúl,” said Schmetzer. “And then the feel-good story of Fredy Montero — I have another super talented player who wants to come back to his home team. That puts a smile on my face. Now I have options. It just makes sense to play with two forwards when you have those players on the roster.”
The only question, then, is what exactly will that formation be? Schmetzer mentioned there are two main looks the Sounders are trying out: A 3-5-2 and a 4-4-2 diamond.
Both formations ask the full backs or wing-backs to provide most of the width. That makes sense when the team has players like Brad Smith and Nouhou on the left and converted midfielders Alex Roldan and Kelyn Rowe on the right.
Essentially, that will leave Schmetzer choosing between using a fourth midfielder or a third centerback. Schmetzer mentioned that Jimmy Medranda has looked good as one of those shuttlers in a diamond midfield and teased the possibility of trying out Nouhou as a left-sided centerback.
“Nouhou has looked pretty good in a back line of three,” he said. “His physical characteristics are there.”