Last night's LAFC game was THE game, in my opinion, of the season on how the rest of 2022 is going to go with the squad we have now. IF..... and IF the team makes the playoffs, there is a good chance that we would face LAFC and I am sure we would see a repeat of last night's game.
Even though I thought the team played its best game since beating Toronto, their performance is not good enough to beat LAFC or any other upper tier team. And if by some miracle we make it to MLS Cup, I think we would lose it in the same way that we lost to Toronto in 2017.
By losing Joao Paulo (for the season) and Ruidiaz has been a gut punch that the team simply can not replicate with anyone else on the team. Sticking a 16 year old in Paulo's place or putting Roldan back there is a definite negative. Nothing against those players but Joao Paulo was very, very good at that position and since he has been gone, the team has not played well.
It is evident, especially watching the loss to Portland and last night's LAFC game, that the team is sorely lacking a star forward and a high quality midfielder. If the team does not bring someone in during the summer transfer window, we could be seeing more games like last night AND there is a good chance we would miss the playoffs entirely.
I think to help the team into the playoffs, to win in the playoffs and to win the MLS Cup, we need three players signed. One for the forward position, one for the midfield and one... I'll get to that one later. LAFC and other teams have done this and look at their results.
So where do we look? Ideally, an American player would be the best choice since we would not have to use the two international slots we have available. But there are no really good American players available so we have to look abroad. (Sending Brad Smith to DC freed up the second international slot for the team)
While Ruidiaz has been great, he has been out for quite a bit this year with hamstring problems. Maybe it is the artificial turf that is causing it? I do not know. But the fact is that he is out and that is hurting the team. While Bruin and Montero have been fine in the forward position, the fact is that they have not been scoring enough goals to offset the problem of not having Ruidiaz in the lineup is the main problem. So I think we need to sign a forward and here are my three candidates.
BTW, the players that I am finding for this list are free agents as of right now only because I know that they are most likely available to be signed by the team. I am sure there are really good players out there that we could sign that are currently with a team, but this is something that I am unaware of. Therefore, looking at the list of free agents is the best way to go for this list.
#1. Nicolas Castillo - 29 years old, from Chile, 5 ft 10 in, striker - significant teams: Club Brugge (BEL), UNAM (MEX), Club America (MEX). GOALS to GAMES: 85-183; Chile National Team: 4 goals in 24 games; Market Value = $1 million
-- why I like him: He is in the prime of his playing years and would make a good 1-2 punch with Ruidiaz in the line up. Also, like Ruidiaz, he knows how to play against Mexican teams. Which is important when playing against them in the Champions League. Watch the video and I think you will like this pick.
-- YouTube video:
#2. Kalifa Coulibaly - 30 years old, from Mali, 6 ft 6 in, striker - significant teams: PSG, Nantes. GOALS to GAMES: 61-249; Mali National Team: 6 goals in 30 games; Market Value = $1.5 million
- why I like him: His size at 6 ft 6 in would tower over most defenders and he would be a menace during corner kicks. And with his size he could help against corners just like Chad Marshall used to do. A really good two-way player for us.
- YouTube video:
#3: Mame Biram Diouf - 34 years old, from Senegal, 6 ft 1 in, striker - significant teams: Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers, Hannover 96, Stoke City. GOALS to GAMES: 118-379. Senegal National Team: 10 goals in 47 games; Market Value: $1.2 million
- why I like him: experience... experience... experience... playing in the Premier League against the best teams in the world. While I am sure that he has lost a step or two and since right now his contract with a Turkish team has ended, to me that indicates that signing with a top team is over. Yet at 34 years old, he should still have some gas in that tank of his that could give the Sounders a couple of good years.
- YouTube video: I do not have any current videos since the ones posted are from 4 to 8 years ago. But if you need to see a goal from him, here is a video of him scoring a goal against Manchester City from 5 years ago:
CENTRAL MIDFIELDER or DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDER
Acquiring a player at this position will help send Christian Roldan back to the right wing position... which is his best position. So who is out there that can help solidify the midfield the same way (or even better) when Joao Paulo was in the lineup? After doing some deep digging, Runar Mar Siguijonsson is the best midfielder out there because of his skill and for his value... which keeps him below DP money but at TAM money. To me, this is the only choice.
Runar Mar Siguijonsson - 32 years old, from Iceland, 5 ft 10 in, Central Midfielder - significant teams: Grasshoppers. GOALS to GAMES: 67-328. Icelandic National Team: 2 goals in 32 games; Market Value: $920,000
- why I like him: His experience is obvious in the amount of games he has played including playing a lot for his home country. He also has a wicked long shot, which you will see in the video. The downside is that he has never played in a top league but he should still be a very good signing for the Sounders. This is a must have player in replacing Joao Paulo for this season. And will be a good addition for the next couple of years as well.
- YouTube video:
The third player that the Sounders should sign is Osvaldo Alonso. That's right. The Sounders all-time captain should be back with the Sounders to finish off his career. I do not need to tell you what he can bring back to the team. Nothing further is needed to say about how amazing it would be to see him back out there. I know that I said that the Icelandic player is the only midfielder that the Sounders should sign, but Alonso is more than that. He can start a few games, come off the bench... etc. To me, he is still an important player if the Sounders sign him.
I think signing just one player on this list would be amazing, let alone all three of them. At the most, the Sounders can only sign two because that is how many international slots are available to the team. Alonso is an American citizen so he can be signed regardless.
In the short term and now, no matter what, the Sounders need someone to come in to lift up the Sounders the same way Lodeiro did when he came in 2016 and carried the Sounders to the MLS Cup. Maybe we can all agree on that because of right now, the Sounders are not going anywhere with the lineup we have now.
So now that you have read my comments, please let me know if you agree/disagree or have a different opinion. Because your opinion matters.
(Who I am: I have been involved in soccer, one way or another since 1978, here and overseas)