The attacking midfielder post

Almost indisputably, the most important position that the Sounders FC will have to fill is that of the offensive midfielder. Goalkeeper (Chris Eylander as soon as he's signed, possibly Kasey Keller) and striker (Sebastien Le Toux and Nate Jaqua) are more or less spoken for, and that's a good thing. But a quality player to lead the Sounders attack in 2009 may be a hard commodity to come by.

Make no mistake, a key player at the attacking midfield spot can make all the difference in MLS. Exhibit A: Recently acquired Amado Guevara, who has played a big role in Toronto FC's 1 year transformation from piddling expansion team to serious title contender. Exhibit B: Guillermo Barros Schelloto (whom my soccer loving, MLS neophite father refers to as "Skeletor"). He is the heart of the Columbus Crew, scoring a goal and assisting on 2 more today. MLS powers Houston and Chicago have international stars running their attack as well. On the other hand, expansion San Jose have a converted holding midfielder running their attack. Needless to say, they are bad.

So how will Seattle avoid that bad-ness? They don't have an MLS quality player to slot in on the USL Sounders. Current AM Leighton O'Brien has a good work rate, but he's old and just doesn't have the quality to cut it against better opponents for a full season. And such a player won't come from the expansion draft, either. The best player I can project being available would be Andy Williams of Real Salt Lake, who is really not your prototypical AM and is aging anyways. No, barring some bizarre trade, the leader of our attack will have to come from outside the country.

If money is no object, the ideal player to bring in to Seattle would be the Mexican international Antonio Naelson, better known as Zinha. Although he's on the wrong side of 30 and is just 5'5", he has shown no signs of weakening as a player. And what a player he is. Zinha possesses excellent touch, fantastic vision for a little guy and is more than capable of blasting in the occasional long-range goal. He has 40 appearances for the Mexican national team, even scoring against the USA a couple of years ago. Best of all, he's been strongly rumored to be interested in coming to America at some point in his career. As long as the Sounders ownership is willing to loosen the drawstrings, Zinha would be the perfect designated player and attacking midfielder.

If you're looking for a more 'attainable' name who could fill this position, Eliseo Quintanilla might be your guy. The 25 year old Salvadorian has been on a tear for his national team (22 games, 12 goals) as of late, which has brought about murmurs of his interest in returning to MLS. (He had a brief, injury-plagued spell at DC United a few years back.) Quintanilla is also small in stature but tall in talent, with his standout ability being his set-piece mastery. For whatever it's worth, and it may be nothing, he's been linked to both FC Dallas and San Jose. He could have a tie to Seattle, as well - he plays for the Costa Rican powerhouse club Alajuelense, from whom the Sounders recently signed defender Michael Rodriguez. Make no mistake, he's at least vaguely on the radar of the Sounders brass.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Benny Feilhaber!