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Constantly juggled lineups are no excuse, Sounders say

Sounders are well aware that they need to start getting results regardless of who’s playing.

Last Updated
2 min read

RENTON – Through four games, the Seattle Sounders have used four different starting lineups, with an average of about three changes from one game to the next. For the most part those changes have been forced, either through injury or suspension.

No one considers this ideal, but it’s also not so different from what happened last year – when the Sounders only repeated their lineup on three separate occasions – nor something that shows any signs of changing anytime soon. The Sounders are still missing four players who would be either virtually automatic starters or at least be in contention for starting spots. Even if they get healthy by the end of April, they then have a very busy May in which they have six league games as well as U.S. Open Cup, which has two rounds scheduled.

With the Sounders already in desperate need of points, using the juggling lineups as an excuse rings pretty hollow.

“We’re going to have to be comfortable shifting things around and knowing what we want to do and how to do it,” Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei said. “It’s easier when you have consistency, but so far we haven’t been able to do it. We need everyone to make each other’s jobs as easy as possible.”

Contrary to how it may seem from the outside, Frei insisted that the mood within the team remains reasonably high and that the players still have faith in one another to get the job done.

“We get along really well, we’re willing to work for each other,” he said. “What it takes is a result, where things click and things work and we get belief in ourselves. It’s tough every week to say 'we have quality, we have quality', and have nothing to show for it.”

One player who is in position to benefit from all this change is Cody Baker, the Homegrown defender who picked up his first career MLS assist on Saturday with a perfectly placed cross that gave the Sounders a late equalizer.

“Consistency is nice, but as a young guy my job is to compete and push guys for minutes,” Baker said. “So, I’m always fighting for playing time.”

Baker’s performance clearly raised some eyebrows, too. The 20-year-old was training with the starters on Wednesday, which came on the heels of playing 45 minutes for Tacoma Defiance the day after his appearance against the Earthquakes.

One possible lineup could see Baker at right back with Alex Roldan moved to right midfield and Cristian Roldan slid alongside Josh Atencio in a double-pivot. The look seems designed to solidify a defense that made some uncharacteristic mistakes against the Earthquakes and will now face an LA Galaxy attack that Frei deemed “the most lethal front four” in MLS.

“We need to improve,” Frei said. “We’re focusing on having a lot of games left but we have to keep working, keep fighting, keep improving on the things we need to get better with. Some of the really frustrating mistakes are really fixable.”