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3XIs Depth Chart: MLS is Back 2021

As the season opens Lagerwey, Waibel, & Co have space to add talents, now and later.

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

With Seattle Sounders FC settling into a 3-5-2 as its primary formation for 2021 most roles in the Depth Chart have been sorted out. Signings of Kelyn Rowe and Fredy Montero filled that empty hole in the middle, but there is reason to doubt the depth.

There are also a few questions regarding starters. Matchday 1 will begin to answer those questions.

The debates;

  • Three of Arreaga, O’Neill, Nouhou, and Yeimar start.
  • Fredy Montero vs. Will Bruin.
  • Alex Roldan vs. Kelyn Rowe (health currently decides it).
  • Backup DM is Josh Atencio, for now.

The chart lists the team with Nicolás Lodeiro healthy. This is why you see a free 10 role in the 3-5-2 (3-4-1-2). When he doesn’t play the preseason indicators are that you will see more of a deep 6 with two free 8s (JP and Cristian).

Dave Clark

Depth By Role


There’s a significant reason to worry about forward depth now that the club is attempting to run with two at a time — Raúl Ruidíaz is going to miss matches due to international play. All three players at forward are on the wrong side of 30 and there is no clear fourth best forward. The youth that could fill in there are a bunch of wingers, unless Sounders sign Alec Díaz.


Switching to wingbacks puts every non-Brad Smith player into a role that they’ve never played extensively before. Where it is expected that Alex Roldan is the starter on the right the backups in those roles are Rowe, Jimmy Medranda (currently out injured), Nouhou, and the aforementioned youth wingers.


Jordy Delem seems to be a natural here as the 5th CB, a role which can suit him. Josh Atencio may be able to be the sixth CB, but the club shouldn’t count on him filling in there if he’s the short-term starter as a DM.

The great news is that there is a lot of roster space available to fill out the depth, and even some money thanks to the recent Young Money rule being added.

Tacoma Defiance

With nearly another month until Tacoma Defiance open their season on May 8, head coach Wade Webber is dealing with a few roster challenges. Though there are 17 players signed directly to Defiance, several of them remain with the Sounders as Brian Schmetzer gets a look at adding more young depth.

The veteran additions help make up for those that were lost in the offseason. Blewitt isn’t in town yet, but the rest are training with the group. Rayan and Mendoza have been used as fullbacks in the four-man defense that Defiance will use in most situations. Their most frequent formation could be called a 4-2-1-3, but expect the front six to vary often between squad rotations and loan-downs, which are again possible.

Azriel Gonzalez is now a dual citizen of Mexico and the USA.

The Future Is Clearer

As the Academy reboots in the MLS Next program, the top level talents are mostly training with Sounders and Defiance, though there are still a handful of prospects at college.

In general the Defiance and Future sections are ordered based on who, within the next three transfer windows, could sign to the First Team, could help Defiance win, or can fill out a Defiance matchday 18 (or 20).

There are several new names, but the three that deserve huge notice are the ones that spent the most time with Sounders — Juan Alvarez, Cody Baker, and Takashi Sasaki. It is clear they have bright futures.

More clarity will come in the next couple weeks as Tacoma has a handful of preseason scrimmages planned with Sounders and some local colleges.

Hegardt and Lopez are the best two college performers. Both could explore professional options when their seasons finish up.

You will note that the draftees are still in the rumors section. Both of them played college soccer this spring and are permitted to join pro training as that wraps up.

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