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Preseason Notebook: New formations incoming

Brian Schmetzer says there’s going to be more emphasis this year on having a solid alternative to the 4-2-3-1.


When Seattle Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer took over for Sigi Schmid in the summer of 2016, among the first things he did was commit to 4-2-3-1 formation. That formation has obviously served the Schmetzer well, with two MLS Cup titles and two other championship appearances in five years.

Circumstances, however, may lead to a bit of a refresh.

For the first time in quite some time, the Sounders have multiple question marks at different positions. Although the spine of the Sounders remains formidable as ever, Schmetzer is facing an experienced winger shortage in addition to having the still relatively inexperienced Alex Roldan penciled in as the starting right back.

With Jordan Morris most likely out for the year, Schmetzer may be forced to move his pieces around more than he is accustomed to. And with that may come a more thorough look at a new formation.

“There is a strong possibility that we’re going to put a little bit more work into a secondary formation to see what that looks like,” Schmetzer said.

While Morris wasn’t schedule to return to MLS until the summer anyway — and that was assuming he wasn’t transferred — the injury means the Sounders will have to plan their roster without him nor the funds that would have facilitated bringing in a major talent to replace him.

“Jordan’s injury is a massive blow to the club in the sense he is a tremendous player,” Schmetzer said. “Nico [Lodeiro], Jordan and Raul last year had very good statical seasons. Those three guys were firing all cylinders. So that will be the number one question that we have to answer in this preseason.”

It’s not just who will fill that position, but where they’ll play. Even if Morris had been available, the Sounders still had the other wing position they needed to fill. With potentially two open spots, Schmetzer seems more open than ever to a revamped formation, especially with proven veteran Will Bruin itching for more playing time.

“I can’t remember a time when there was that one spot even available,” Schmetzer said. “That means opportunities for some of the young guys. Playing with two forwards, getting Will on the field, so maybe that drops it down to one starting spot. Lots of unknowns.”

Those unknowns will provide Schmetzer with a chance to look at a number of players in different formations. Seattle native Kelyn Rowe, who signed with the Sounders this offseason has played a number of different positions, and Schmetzer said he’ll get a chance to fit in where the Sounders need him.

“If we play a 3-5-2, can he be a wingback; 4-4-2 diamond, can he spell Nico,” Schmetzer said. “There’s plenty of options [and] there is a nice thing about having a guy with some flexibility.”


  • Schmetzer said they’ll use the preseason to evaluate the young players, but he didn’t rule out bringing in a veteran to bolster the roster. “There’s probably room for another experienced MLS guy. There’s some room for the crop of young kids,” Schmetzer said. This addition would be independent of any moves the team could make during the summer and he suggested it was more likely to be a free agent who had yet to sign or someone who was recently cut loose by another MLS team.
  • Raul Ruidiaz told Niko Moreno that he has an appointment on Thursday to potentially acquire his green card. That would free up an additional international roster slot.

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