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Identifying Sounders’ problems and how to address them with trades

Taking a look at players around the league who could help Seattle get out of their rut

Seattle Sounders FC v San Jose Earthquakes Photo by Lyndsay Radnedge/ISI Photos/Getty Images

The Seattle Sounders are a good team. They’re also a team experiencing a very bad run of form that has exacerbated and evidenced their weaknesses. Of course, the biggest issue the Sounders face at the moment is the injuries. As these past few weeks have shown us, the Sounders can’t really wait to get healthy. Three points from five matches isn’t good enough, especially while the rest of the Western Conference is getting better around them. Let’s put on our GM, coach, and scout hats to figure out what’s wrong.

First, we need to identify some of the weaknesses plaguing the Sounders. They’ve been sluggish and slow in possession, being far too predictable in build-up. Opponents have easily scouted what the weak points are and have been targeting them.

Seattle’s weakness is two-fold. They currently have a left back who is putting together one of the worst passing seasons from an MLS fullback ever. Nouhou does not progress the ball forward with his passing, dribbling, or positioning. Like, at all. The second weakness is their stand-in CMs next to Albert Rusnák have not been able to replicate the tempo-controlling style of João Paulo. Obed Vargas did a decent job of replicating JP’s defensive output, but the 16-year-old is currently out with stress fractures in his back with no obvious timetable for a return.

So, what can they do about it? Let’s investigate some intra-league trade targets that could help the Sounders push for a playoff position — and hopefully an MLS Cup victory.

What’re we working with?

One of Garth Lagerwey’s greatest passions in life is to downplay the possibility of a trade or a signing. Fair enough, he’s pretty good at his job and I won’t question the methods. However, we also know he works like a thief in the night, springing up out of nowhere to take advantage of market inefficiencies that will make the Sounders better. He might be a little strapped for cash (Allocation Money), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t players available at a price Seattle is willing to pay.

A very interesting trade happened on Tuesday that I think informs us a lot about what the market is for Seattle. LAFC traded for Orlando City’s Jhegson Méndez for a fee of around $300k in GAM. Last month I thought Méndez would be a wonderful addition to Seattle’s midfield, but hey, LAFC paid a price Seattle didn’t want to.

We can make a pretty well-informed guess that if Seattle’s looking to make an addition this summer via a trade from within the league, it’s likely going to be for less than $300k in xAM.

It’s one veteran CM, Michael. What could it cost? Ten dollars?

One thing we know is that Lagerwey loves to target veteran MLS players in the summer window that aren’t in their current team’s plans. It’s basically happened every year, from Luis Silva to Nicolas Benezet. If an addition like this happens, it’ll probably be a defensive midfielder. So, who is out there to look at?

Two names that I think they could target are Eric Remedi from San Jose and Anibal Godoy from Nashville. Both players are older while their teams seemingly have different plans for their positions.

Remedi profiles as a classic ball-winning defensive midfielder. This is the type of player that could sit next to Rusnak and make sure the Sounders aren’t so easy to score against on the counterattack. What would Remedi cost? Well, he was traded to San Jose last year for $200k and hasn’t done anything to increase his value. He’s also out of contract at the end of the year.

Godoy, who scored against Seattle in Nashville’s win earlier this season, is a bit more interesting an idea but might be too expensive. In 2019 Nashville splashed the cash to sign Godoy, giving up $650k in xAM to get him from San Jose. At the time, only Darlington Nagbe went for more allocation money as a CM. Godoy’s 2021 season was absolutely fantastic and garnered best XI chatter. However, it seems like Nashville has other plans for their midfield after signing Sean Davis this offseason. Godoy brings all of the defensive stability that Remedi brings while also bringing much, much more in possession. The only downside to a move for Godoy would be taking on his contract. His deal doesn’t expire at the end of this season. Perhaps the Sounders could fork over a lower upfront amount of allocation money in order to absorb his cap hit.

Looking in the couch cushions for value

If the Sounders are really, really strapped for cash they could target some unproven talent that is stashed away on rosters around the league. If the Sounders want to sign a younger attack-minded left back, we know that Toronto FC is shopping Jacob Shaffleburg. The young Canadian has mostly played left-midfield this season, but when he’s played fullback over the years, he seems like a left-sided Alex Roldan.

A really out there idea and potentially the cheapest option of all could be Charlotte’s Derrick Jones. His career has been very up and down after a promising start in Philadelphia. He’s a pure defensive midfielder with a lot of size. What intrigues me about his potential is the numbers he put up with the Houston Dynamo last season. Houston obviously wasn’t very good, but under Tab Ramos they played a 4-3-3 with a lone defensive-mid. In that setup, Jones was rarely dribbled past and was calculated and smart when he applied his pressure on the ball carrier, ending up in the 98th percentile for successful pressures. If the Sounders want a guy that would undoubtedly be cheap given Charlottle’s situation, Jones could provide value for Seattle.

The Sounders very well may stay pat and not make any rash decisions if the market is too spicy, but there could be value out there.

Thanks to fbref for the data used in this article.

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