A short time ago, I suggested that for the Sounders to be able to win MLS Cup and to compete in the upcoming FIFA Club World Cup that we need to sign a very good player this summer. A high level, world class player. Someone with Clint Dempsey-like or better credentials. Since then we have found out more about the clubs competing in that tournament.
The other teams that will be in the FIFA Club World Cup are:
* Asian Football Confederation: 16 clubs are still competing with the final being played next February due to the lateness of this years World Cup.
* Confederation of African Football: their champions league has not even started playing
* Oceania Football Confederation: 6 clubs are still competing with teams from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu; it is unknown when their final is going to be
* South American Football Confederation: final will be played on October 29, 2022
* Union of European Football Association: winner of this year's tournament is Real Madrid.
According to the BBS Sports, this upcoming tournament will be held in China. So the teams known so far is a club from China, Real Madrid and the Sounders.
In my opinion, I feel that the Sounders, as things sit right now, can beat the host nation's club team and any team from Oceania. The teams representing Asia and Africa are big unknowns to me but there are a lot of high quality players that come out of Korea, Japan and any of the African nations that will be at this tournament. So what ever the Asian team is going to be is going to be a very good club. The same with the African champion. And against the club representing South America and Real Madrid... the Sounders will have a very, very difficult time with it. The FIFA Club World Cup is one giant level of quality above whatever the Sounders will ever have faced before.
Since the CONCACAF Champions League final, the team has gone 4 wins, 2 ties and 2 losses. I am going to throw out the loss to Dallas, since that was just after the Champions League Final. And I am going to throw out the LAFC tie because... more on that later. So we are left with 4 wins, 1 tie and 1 loss against teams that are mid-level to basement-level teams. With the squad we have, we should have done that well or maybe a bit better.
Now the first real test was yesterday's game against LAFC, who is leading MLS in points right now. The Sounders should have lost that game 1 to 0 despite the gift goal that LAFC gave us. We had some chances but we did not make their goal keeper make any good or even great saves. There was only one play that we had during the entire match that tested their goal keeper.
I was reading on this website that one of the authors is saying how good our midfield duo of Obed Vargas and Albert Rusnak are. In my opinion, Vargas is doing quite well learning his position but he is not that great yet. He is very talented but he is still learning his position and was beat quite often against LAFC. He was often chasing the LAFC players quite a bit instead of controlling his area of the field. Not even near Alonso type greatness.
Rusnak, in my opinion, is not DP quality. He is a good player but he is not DP quality. Gustav Svensson was a heck of a lot better than Rusnak and he was never a DP on this team. Joao Paulo is a heck of a lot better player and he is not a DP on this team. If Rusnak is a DP quality player, he has not shown it and has not been very consistent at it.
So what is DP quality then? To answer that, look at how Lodeiro and Ruidiaz play. They are difference makers... they play at a higher level then anyone else. Joao Paulo also plays at this level. Past DPs that deserve this status were: Mauro Rosales, Osvaldo Alonso, Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins. Definite Sounders legends.
The current duo of Vargas and Rusnak, in my opinion, is going to have problems when we play more of the upper tier teams in MLS and against our #1 rival, Portland.
When we hit the playoffs or even make the MLS Cup final, teams are going to plow through our midfield unless things change. Such as signing a very good defensive midfielder.
If the team is not going to sign a DP quality defensive midfielder, and there are a lot of them that are available out there, then maybe the team should go after another DP quality attacking midfielder... which would help ease the load on Lodeiro. Or sign another striker... which would help keep Ruidiaz fresh instead of sitting out games because of a hamstring injury (which he has now... again). Both scenarios would ease off pressure of our defensive middle duo of Vargas and Rusnak and help the team.
Finally, we do have a strong team with a deep bench, for competing in MLS. But look at how difficult it was when we played teams outside the league. If we are to win MLS Cup or even to compete well at the upcoming FIFA Club World Cup tournament, the club needs to get stronger. And, to me, the weakest link on the team is our defensive midfield duo of Vargas and Rusnak.
We do have one open international slot available... so the team is not hampered to sign anyone they want to. Why not bring in another DP quality player that could become another Sounder legend?
So let me know what you all think. Do you like the current status of the team in that we do not need to sign someone? Do you agree with me that we need a new DP level player (or even two players) to strengthen the squad so we have a better chance to win the MLS Cup and to compete at the FIFA Club World Cup? Or something in between all of that?
Your opinion matters!!!! Thank you.