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May 182013

images Know Your MLS Team: Seattle Sounders

Club Founded:  1974 (NASL)

Where they Finished Last Season: 15-8-11 Semi-Finalists, Western Conference.

Pedigree: Three-time winners of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (2009, 2010, 2011)

Rivals: Cascadia Cup (Portland Timbers and the Vancouver Whitecaps;) Heritage Cup- To be decided from the teams who originate from the North American Soccer League (San Jose Earthquakes.)

Supporters Groups: Emerald City Supporters, SoCal Sound, Gorilla FC, North End Faithful

Coach: Sigi Schmid

Top Returning Players: GK Michael Gspurning, MF Mauro Rosales, MF Steve Zakuani, FWD Eddie Johnson.

Key Additions: FWD Obafemi Martins (Levante.) MF Shalrie Jospeh (Chivas USA,) MF Djimi Traore (Marseilles.)

Key Departures: FWD Freddy Montero (Millionaros,) DEF Jeff Parke (Philadelphia Union)


While the Sounders may not be one of the founders of Major League Soccer, their history in American soccer makes them one of its most prestigious. Founded originally in 1974 as expansion club in the North American Soccer League (NASL,) the Sounders have existed in one form or another for close to 40 years. In a country that has largely ignored its soccer history outside of Pele and FIFA World Cup 1994, the Sounders fans have kept this team and its spirit alive playing in leagues like the American Professional Soccer League, United Soccer League, the A-League, and Major League Soccer. With an average attendance of 43,144 the Sounders easily have the largest attendance in MLS. According 2012 attendance figures, the Sounders fans should be considered one of the most respected and well organized groups in the world. But what about the team?

Since the club entered MLS in 2009, the club has never missed the playoffs and has been a perennial contender for the MLS Cup. But they have never won the title and they have never actually been a participant in the MLS Cup. While they are a three time winner of the U.S. Open Cup and are currently in the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Champions League, MLS Cup glory is what this team wants.

From a tactical standpoint, the team’s strength stems from the work of Midfielder Mauro Rosales. The diminutive Argentine, who comes from Newell’s Old Boys system in Argentina and has previously played for River Plate and Ajax, is quite an explosive midfielder who is also an excellent crossing midfielder. He has an excellent complement with Brad Evans, who is more of a defensive midfielder. The two are joined by the Democratic Republic of the Congo midfielder Steve Zakuani, an explosive player who is coming back from a terrible leg suffered in 2010. The addition of Djimi Traore, a former Liverpool product, should strengthen their backline immensely. Seattle’s biggest weaknesses was their defense year, and so far Mr, Traore has shown himself to be a very capable left back. I would  like to say that he is an under the radar player, but with his goal in Wednesday’s match Mexican side Tigre it appears that is no longer the case.

The major question that this team has coming into the year is how the duo of  Obafemi Martins and Eddie Johnson will work together and if either of them can replace the goals that Montero provided for this team. That will be difficult. Montero, who is Seattle’s all-time leading goal scorer with 47 goals, is about as close to a world class player that MLS has ever produced. As a Newcastle fan, my memories of Martins are not good. An immensely talented player, he never seemed like he ever grew up. Sure he would surprise teams with his speed and vertical leap. But when he would play the Arsenal’s, the Manchester United’s, or even a strong defensive team like Stoke City, he would be found out as a player of pure skill and nothing more. Players that solely rely on their talents and never developed the instincts and the strategy that this game requires can play for many years but never do much of anything. Since he left Newcastle in 2009, Martins has played for VFL Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga, Rubin Kazan of the Russian Football Championship, and Levante of La Liga scoring only 16 goals in 41 matches. While there is certainly a drop off in between the leagues listed and MLS, it will be difficult for him in a league that prides itself on defense and physical play.

Seattle has all of the tools to make a serious run at the MLS Cup this year. They have made some good adjustments along their midfield and their defense, and Gspurning is one of the top young Goalkeepers in the league. But their season will depend on whether or not Martins can adapt to the MLS and if Johnson can work off of his comeback season last year and finally become the player that American fans have thought he would be for the past five years.

Beer of Choice:

Pike XXXXX Stout, Pike Brewing Company. In order to appreciate a Sounders match properly, you need a beer that has a little bit of Seattle in it and enough kick to survive the frigid temperatures of the Bird’s Nest. Pike Brewing’s Stout is essentially a coffee stout with a hint of chocolate and licorice. With an alcohol by volume percent of 7.0% it gives you the heart and caffeine to sing with the Emerald City’s finest supporters.

Sean Maslin

Writer for Global Football Today and Blatter's Blotter. Lifetime D.C. United, Newcastle United, and Washington Warthog fan. Can be reached at @SeanMaslin on twitter or at

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